Adapting cold spray for industry
Cold spray is a technique for depositing powder particles in the solid state by accelerating them towards a surface within a supersonic gas flow. Cold spray can be used to coat a variety of materials (metals, glass, ceramics, polymers), for repair of worn or damaged metal components, and to build large components layer-by-layer, i.e. additive manufacturing. Since melting is not involved, cold spray can deposit oxygen-sensitive materials without the need for a vacuum chamber. The challenge is adapting this sophisticated manufacturing method to create solutions for real world problems.
Our cold spray facilities
We have an experienced team of cold spray researchers who have a history of close collaboration with small and large organisations. Examples of the variety of industries and application areas into which we have taken cold spray include:
- Manufacture of large, free-form components
- Production of seamless titanium pipe
- Replacing electroplating for printing rollers
- High temperature oxidation protection
- Low friction coatings
- Repair of worn engine parts
- Thin, conductive coatings on electronic ceramics
- Treatments to prevent biofouling for non-paintable polymers
Each material and application is unique, requiring careful understanding of the relationship between process conditions, particle acceleration and deposition. The team has developed sophisticated models of the supersonic gas flow through the cold spray nozzle. We have published detailed studies of particle bonding mechanisms, characterisation of the cold spray microstructure and property evaluation.
Our cold spray facility has two dedicated spray rooms, each housing a full-scale, industrial system – the CGT Kinetiks 4000 and Plasma Giken PCS 1000. Deposition rates are kilograms to tens of kilograms per hour. Both systems are controlled by ABB robots which can perform complicated manoeuvres for free-form fabrication.