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Thermal spraying is a cost-effective method for applying coatings that enhance surface properties. In the simplest terms, thermal spray involves heating a feedstock material, generally in powder or wire form, to a molten or semi-molten state. The feedstock is propelled using a stream of gas or compressed air to deposit it, creating a surface structure on a given substrate.

The coating feedstock material may consist of a single metallic element, but more often it is an alloy, composite, ceramic, carbide or blend that will give rise to a surface having physical properties that are only achievable through the thermal spray process. Thermal spray is a family of processes, with each member of the process family providing unique opportunities for engineered surfaces.

Oerlikon Metco actively supports all common thermal spray methods, with options to suit your surfacing and applications requirements — such as the size of your production run, geometry of your part, environmental concerns and portability. Through thermal spray, Oerlikon Metco has developed and marketed application technologies to apply coatings that solve our customers’ toughest surface challenges since 1933.

Spraying in a controlled atmosphere produces very pure, oxygen-free coatings.Because of the high-purity characteristics, applications typically include land-based and flight turbine components and medical implants. Commonly used feedstock materials include metals, ceramics, and cermets.

Key benefits of this process
  • Produces very pure, oxygen-free coatings
  • Capable of applying many powdered feedstock coating materials including metals, ceramics and cermets
  • Application of refractory metals are possible
  • Excellent for high volume production
Typical applications 
  • Turbine blades/vanes
  • Solid oxide fuel cells
  • Medical implants
  • Near-net shapes
Process description

While the basic process is similar to Atmospheric Plasma Spray, controlled atmosphere plasma spray refers to coatings applied in a chamber, usually at near vacuum. It applies superior coatings characterized by high densities or very controlled porosities with extremely low contamination. The near-vacuum environment leads to long spray plumes that result in coating of individual parts quickly, thereby making this an excellent process for high-volume production. With this method, we can achieve certain results not possible with any other atmospheric thermal spray process, such as thin layers, ceramic structures, and the application of refractory metals.

Process basics
  • Heat source: arc
  • Feedstock: powder (metals, ceramics)
  • Arc temperature: approx. 16,000 °C (28 800 °F)
  • Particle velocity: 200 to 400 m/s (650 to 1 300 ft/s)
  • Approximate application rate: 35 to 100 g/min (4.5 to 13 lb/h)

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