Put a gases and engineering company together and a cold spraying technology expert together, and you’re likely to obtain a post additive manufacturing cold spraying gas supply solution. That’s what happened when Linde and Impact Innovations decided to join forces. Named LINSPRAY® Connect, their jointly developed technology aims to enhance the reliability and safety of the cold spraying process.
For those who do not know, cold spraying is a material deposition technique where tiny particles of between 5 to 50 microns are propelled onto a substrate using high-pressure gases. The particles, which start at ambient temperatures, are placed in a nitrogen or helium gas stream which is then heated and accelerated through a supersonic nozzle at speeds between 500 to 1200 meters per second. During the process, the temperature of the metal powder remains far below its melting point, ensuring the metal particles stay in their solid stage, retain their unique properties and remain oxidation resistant. The coating created via this process is ductile which also prevents any risk of embrittlement under stress.
Due to the high temperatures required (up to 1,100°C) within the gas stream, the manufacturing of coated products is heavily dependent on a number of factors, including the supply of high purity gases and a stable and reliable gas flow with minimal pressure variation – all of which must be within a specified temperature range. Rapid temperature changes can damage both the gas heater and the laval nozzle at the tip of the spray gun. Constant, reliable pressure is needed to ensure a smooth gas flow which will ultimately influence the coating quality, with any fluctuations potentially having a negative impact on delivering a uniform coating and overall product quality.
The sophisticated design behind LINSPRAY® Connect ensures not only the delivery of a reliable, stable and high-quality gas flow with minimal variation, it also enables the customer, for the first time, to monitor process parameters including pressure, temperature and filling levels of the nitrogen tank. It automatically sends error messages in real time and can switch to an emergency gas supply or activate a safe shut-down of the system in case of incidents. Production volume can easily be increased or decreased as required.
These enhanced delivery capabilities will result in reduced downtime as error notifications allow for proactive, preventative maintenance. It will also reduce the instances of rejects and any rework required.
“Linde has long been the backbone of high-quality gas supply for industries looking to develop products that rely on innovative coatings,” said Paolo Kirchpfening, Global Commercialization Manager Manufacturing Markets, Linde. “Through our collaboration with Impact Innovations, we are excited to be able to offer a new, first-of-its-kind gas delivery system that will provide manufacturers with far greater insight and control of their cold spraying process.”
LINSPRAY Connect is also supporting cold spraying’s tremendous opportunity to enhance manufacturing sustainability by repairing and refurbishing parts that could previously only be replaced or recycled, thereby saving significant amounts of energy and material resources.
“We are delighted that our collaboration with Linde has resulted in what is a significant development to advance our cold spraying system,” said Leonhard Holzgassner, Technical Director & Founder, Impact Innovations. “Improving productivity, reducing costs, maintenance and energy usage are never-ending goals for manufacturing innovators, and we’re proud to say LINDSPRAY Connect in combination with our Impact EvoCSII systems are truly boosting cold spraying technology to the next level.”
Linde and Impact Innovations predict that while applications for the new gas delivery solution will be an important development for a wide range of industries requiring inductive or resistant coatings, there will be particular interest for sectors in nuclear energy (for the coating of storage and transport containers to prevent corrosion), aerospace (for repair techniques for lightweight alloy components and additive manufacturing of combustion chambers), cookware (for induction coatings) and automotive (for brake disc coatings to reduce emissions and thermal management for electric vehicles with hybrid heatsinks).
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