During plasma spraying in-flight particle characteristics are influenced by the many operating parameters associated with the deposition process. The distinctive temperature and velocity signals given by particles as they exit the plasma torch can be used to develop processing maps for defining the optimal operating envelope. Knowing the temperature and velocity history of the particles, the evolution of the microstructure, the amount of porosity and the phase composition can potentially be predicted. In this paper, the relationship of system parameters (stand-off distance, torch power, plasma gas composition and process gas flow) was correlated to in-flight particle characteristics of yttria stabilized zirconia and compared to the resulting coating features such as thickness, microstructure, porosity and phase composition. The appearance of the coating (i.e., color) was also compared after the deposition process. Yttria stabilized zirconia was deposited on grit blasted samples using an F4 (Sulzer Metco) plasma torch. Before depositing each sample on the substrate, the particle properties were measured at the desired stand off distance perpendicular to the particle jet covering an area of 18x18 mm2 using the Tecnar DPV2000 inflight particle analyzer. The coatings were cross-sectioned for microstructure analysis, thickness measurements and deposition efficiency. Free standing films were used for mercury intrusion porosimetry. Grey levels of the coatings were obtained by optical microscopy and subsequent digital image recording. X-ray-diffraction analysis was also used to obtain the phase composition. Results showed that different particle temperature and velocity conditions lead to specific porosity and varying colors of the deposit. The color of the deposit was correlated directly to the amount of monoclinic phase in the as-deposit material.

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