Thermal spray has traditionally been used for depositing metallic, carbide and ceramic coatings, however, it has recently been found that the high kinetic energy of the High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF) thermal spray process also enables the solventless processing of high melt viscosity polymers, eliminating the need for harmful, volatile organic solvents. A primarily goal of this work was to develop a knowledge base and improved qualitative understanding of the impact behavior of polymeric particles sprayed by the HVOF combustion spray process. Numerical models of particle acceleration, heating and impact deformation during HVOF spraying of polymer particles have been developed. A Volume-of-Fluid (VoF) computational fluid mechanics package, Flow3D®, was used to model the fluid mechanics and heat transfer during particle impacts with a steel substrate. The radial temperature profiles predicted using particle acceleration and heat transfer models were used as initial conditions in Flow3D® together with a temperature-dependent viscosity model to simulate polymer particles with a low temperature, high viscosity core and high temperature, lower viscosity surface. This approach predicted deformed particles exhibiting a large, nearly hemispherical, core within a thin disk, and was consistent with experimental observations of thermally sprayed splats made using an optical microscope.

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