A beginner’s guide to plasma spraying

What is plasma spraying?

Plasma spraying is the process by which electrically conductive gas is applied to a range of materials, most commonly metals and ceramics, in order for them to benefit from improved protection against wear, corrosion, heat and oxidisation.

What does plasma spraying do?

Plasma spraying improves an object’s resistance to electrical conductivity and is often chosen for industrial purposes such as gas turbines, laser engraving and engine piston rings. Plasma spraying is commonplace in a number of industries, including aerospace and marine engineering where it is selected for its excellent corrosion resistance, agriculture and automotive engineering due to the protective barrier that it applies against the elements and in a number of household appliances and electronics where its resistance to conductivity can protect users from electrical currents.

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How do you apply thermal plasma spray?

Applying thermal plasma spray is not a job for the DIY enthusiast, as the process is highly intricate and there are a number of health and safety considerations, including the exceptionally high operating temperatures which require specialist planning, tooling and equipment to carry it out successfully.

When you hire a specialist to apply thermal plasma spray, you benefit from the experience and skill of a fully trained and equipped team who will be able to precisely manage your object through the range of processes, including pre-treating, blasting and finishing.

Should I choose plasma spraying?

Plasma spraying is a fairly costly option but the cost should always be balanced against the longevity of the treatment, as it is unlikely that further treatments and protections will be required. The cost is due to the specialist nature of the equipment that is required, which requires regular maintenance and component replacement and the cost associated with training and equipping specialist operators to run the equipment safely.

A range of thermal spray options exist and which you choose depends on your industry, the material that you wish to have sprayed and the operating environment in which it will be used.

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The options include thermal spray ceramics, which are ideal for improving wear resistance on moving mechanical parts, Y-stabilised Zirconia which applies a thermal barrier and insulation to static metal components, Abradables which support a controlled bedding-in of components, cements which are useful for increasing wear resistance and Copper and Nickel Aluminium Bronze which is usually selected for restoration of worn components.

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