The ability of suspension plasma spraying (SPS) to overcome difficulties associated with feeding of fine (submicron or nano-sized) powders and achieve more refined microstructures than possible in atmospheric plasma spraying (APS) is well established. In recent times, the use of axial injection plasma spray systems has yielded substantial enhancement in deposition rates/efficiencies due to improved thermal exchange between the plasma plume and injected feedstock. The present paper describes utilization of both the above advances in plasma spraying to create various function-dependent coating architectures through simultaneous and/or sequential spraying of hybrid powder-suspension feedstock. A specific variant of such hybrid axial plasma spraying that enables deposition of composite coatings by simultaneous injection of a powder and a suspension is discussed in particular detail. Results obtained using an Al2O3-ZrO2 material system as a case study reveal that composite coatings combining the micron-size features arising from the spray-grade Al2O3 powder and submicron or nano-sized features attributable to the ZrO2 suspension can be conveniently realized. The surface morphology, microstructure, and composition of these coatings, as well as their tribological behaviour determined using scratch and ball-on-disc tests, are presented herein. The utility of this method to develop a wide array of composite coatings is also discussed.

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