Is Cold Spray the next big thing in Additive Manufacturing

Is Cold Spray the next big thing in Additive Manufacturing

Credit: GE

Manoj Pillai

Leading the AM division of Falcon Technologies International. Looking for growth through industrial applications in polymer and metal AM through, scaling locally, international collaborations and inorganic growth.

This article provides a summary of the various aspects of Cold Spray Technology and its applications.

My experience in shifting from polymer machine sales to leading the service bureau industry in middle east have given a new perspective to the entire 3D Printing market scenario in UAE. I have been interacting a lot with Oil and Gas clients and started getting requests for coating and repair of used parts. In addition, there is an interest for multi material components. The quest for a solution to these two requests is leading towards either DED (Direct Energy Deposition) or cold spray. I am inclined more towards cold spray, mainly due to two reasons, one deposition speed is high, and second there is availability of portable machines. This article is a summary of the market research done on the Cold Spray Technology. Here is what I stumbled upon. I am yet waiting for my first direct interaction with an end use application of the technology, which will happen soon. The article will have its limitation in depth of technicality (intentionally); but should serve as a summary for someone who is interested in the basics and developing it further. Will write another one once the first part made of Cold Spray is installed at a customer location.

Low pressure cold spray can deposit upto 5kg/hr of material and high pressure cold spray can deposit material at a rate of upto 10 kg/hr. A major aerospace company saved upto 18 million USD in replacement costs and lead times worth 6 months per casing by adopting cold spray and repairing the same. Another company saw huge saving by salvaging a component where the repair cost was only $2850 vs $38,000 new component cost. The lead time was cut short to 4 hours from 3 months.

Technology

CSAM or cold spray additive manufacturing is a new term. Cold spray as a technology was developed accidently by two Erstwhile Soviet Union scientists in 1980. They were studying multiphase flow around solid objects wind tunnels. At low velocity, the solid particles cause erosion of metals, like Grit or sand blasting. However, at high velocity, they noticed that instead of eroding; the particles stick together and forms a solid bond (https://coldspray.com/the-history-of-cold-spray-technology). Then this was investigated further by the researchers and lead to an interesting discovery and patent. Metal particles accelerated at high speeds hitting any surface will form a plastic bond almost equivalent in strength to the original material. This phenomenon of making deposits is called cold spraying because the entire process of forming the bond or layer happens below the melting point of the material.Cold spray will achieve a near net shape by depositing the material and the component will have to be machined to the final dimensional required.  Unlike LPBF or other AM processes this technology cannot produce fine features.

Figure 1: Cold Spray Repairs. Credit Titomic (https://titomic.webinargeek.com/revolutionise-your-repair-and-maintenance-with-titomic-s-d523)

There are a few companies around the world making the machines for cold spray application. Lets take a look at the companies making cold spray machines.

Equipment Manufacturers

Below is a compilation. The list will be updated later, and any misses will be added.

Company Name Location Portability Remarks
Impact innovation Systems GmBH Germany No High pressure cold spray systems
Super Sonic a division of Centerline Canada Yes 2 systems, both high and low pressure
Innovati USA No Uses Kinetic Metallization . It is the only cold spray process which uses low pressure helium or nitrogen (70-130psi) and a sonic nozzle to accelerate particles. This means that Kinetic Metallization can successfully deposit most materials, including tungsten carbide-cobalt and niobium.
Dymet Cold spray systems Russia Yes Portable low pressure cold spray systems
VRC Metal Systems USA Yes Have 3 systems. GEN111, Raptor mobile systems, Automated Additive, and subtractive systems
Plasma Japan Japan No cold spray 1000 and cold spray 800.
Rus Sonic Technology USA Yes The only Cold Gas Dynamic Spray (CGDS) equipment manufacturer to offer solutions for coating and fabricating using compressed air.
Titomic

(Dycomet)

Australia Yes for smaller size Two systems, TKF1000 and TKF 9000. They acquired Dycomet from Netherlands who were producing low pressure D523 portable system
Spee3D Australia Yes SPEE3D developed ‘Supersonic 3D Deposition’. patented process in which a rocket nozzle accelerates air up to three times the speed of sound, into which metal powder is injected then deposited onto a substrate maneuvered by a six-axis robotic arm
Obninsk Center for Powder Spraying (OCPS) Russia Yes Research organization for cold spray equipment

 

Latest in the news

One of the latest news in the industry is about the company Titomic with ticker (TTT-AX) installing their latest machine at TWI. This is a TKF 1000 which can build parts up to 5 meters. This will further develop the UK civil aerospace and defence industry. (https://titomic.com/titomic-finalises-installation-of-tkf1000-at-twi-uk/)

RC Metal Systems, a leading developer of advanced cold spray technologies, announced today that they have been selected by the U.S. Navy to take part in the 2022 Navy REPTX, sponsored by NAVSEA 05T to provide solutions for pier-side and shipboard cold spray corrosion and battle damage repair and mitigation.  (https://www.pr.com/press-release/865840)

Types of Systems

There are two kinds of systems in cold spray and the classification is based on the pressure at which the gas operates. Below 500 Psi inlet pressure is called the low-pressure system and those systems above 500 Psi is the high-pressure system. In low pressure system the particle velocity reaches around 600 m/s vs. 1000 m/s in high pressure system.  Both uses de Laval nozzle to accelerate and direct the powder to the substrate. In low pressure system the powder injected after the gas is accelerated in the nozzle., in the high-pressure system the powder is injected before the acceleration in the nozzle.

Figure 2: Low Pressure Cold Spray System Schematic (Credit Harminder Singh, Guru Nanak Dev University | GNDU • Department of Mechanical Engineering)
Is Cold Spray the next big thing in Additive Manufacturing
Figure 3: High Pressure Cold Spray (Credit: Dycomet)

Applications of Cold Spray

Cold spray finds several industrial applications and a few are listed below.

  1. Anti-Corrosion coating in Marine and industrial
  2. Repair of parts in Wind Turbines, Military, Aerospace , Oil and Gas
  3. Whether coating
  4. Manufacturing of parts

Is Cold Spray the next big thing in Additive Manufacturing

Advantages of Cold Spray system

  1. Easy repair
  2. Faster build rates.
  3. No residual Stresses
  4. No Heat Affected zones
  5. Very minimal surface preparation required
  6. Improved mechanical properties and fatigue life of the coating
  7. Faster powder feed rates and 100% reuse of particles
  8. Multi material buildup

With all this advantages, it is natural to think why this is still not taking over the entire AM spectrum. There are a few disadvantages. One is the cost of the system, second is that the low-pressure system cannot deposit all the materials. Also high pressure system will need Helium or other rare gas to carry the material.

However with the new developments happening with gas control and materials that can be sprayed, and the applications being developed in repair of components, this technology will start getting used in various industries.

Contact and More Discussions

In the interest of the length of the article; this is being concluded here. For more discussion, please contact the author at manoj.pillai@falconrak.ae or manojsapillai@gmail.com

Falcon Technologies International, RAK UAE,company focussed on Industrial 3D printing applications is actively looking to adopt this technology for repair applications in Oil and Gas and Marine. Interested parties may contact us for projects.

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Manoj Pillai
AVP Commercial, Additive Manufacturing at Falcon Technologies International LLC

Leading the AM division of Falcon Technologies International. Looking for growth through industrial applications in polymer and metal AM through, scaling locally, international collaborations and inorganic growth.