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Pure Appl. Chem., 2005, Vol. 77, No. 2, pp. 443-462

Diagnostics for advanced materials processing by plasma spraying

C. Moreau, J.-F. Bisson, R. S. Lima and B. R. Marple

National Research Council Canada, Industrial Materials Institute, 75 de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), J4B 6Y4, Canada

Advanced coatings deposited by plasma spraying are used in a large variety of industrial applications. The sprayed coatings are employed typically in industry to protect parts from severe operating conditions or to produce surfaces with specific functions. Applications are found in many industrial sectors such as aerospace, automobile, energy generation, and biomedical implants.
Coatings are built by the successive deposition of molten or partially molten particles that flatten and solidify upon contact on the substrate, forming lamellae. The coating properties are intimately linked to the properties of these lamellae, which in turn depend on in-flight particle properties as well as substrate temperature during spraying. Consequently, the development of diagnostic tools for monitoring and controlling these spray parameters will help provide the necessary information to study the coating formation process, optimize the coating properties, and, eventually, control the spray process in production.
In this paper, a review of some recent developments of optical diagnostic techniques applied to monitor plasma-sprayed particles is presented. In the first part of the paper, two different sensing techniques for in-flight particle measurement are described. First, time-resolved diagnostics on individual particles is described. This technique is used to study the instabilities of the particle characteristics associated with the plasma fluctuations. Secondly, a technique adapted for use in an industrial production environment for measuring the particle jet characteristics as an ensemble is presented. In the second part of the paper, the use of an optical system to study the influence of the substrate temperature on the flattening and solidification of sprayed particles impacting on a flat substrate is described. The last part of this paper describes the optimization of nanostructured coatings based on a tight control of the temperature and velocity of the plasma-sprayed particles.