Plasma spraying operations performed with high carrier gas flow rate may improve the coating properties but they can also lead to lump formation and thus coating defects. The damaged work piece must then be stripped and recoated, which implies a considerable waste in terms of coating powder, energy and time. The aim of this study was to determine the cause of the lumps, and propose process modifications for avoiding their formation while keeping the coating quality. Numerical simulations based on 3D turbulent Navier-Stokes equations in local thermal and chemical equilibrium were carried out to understand the problem and estimate the feasibility of the proposed solutions. The computational results were supplemented by experiments for validation. A first set of investigations was focused on the location and orientation of the powder port injector. It turned out that it was not possible to keep the coating quality while avoiding lump formation by simply moving the powder injector. A new geometry of the nozzle exit was then designed and successfully tested for a first application with Ni-5Al powder used in production.

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