The development of thermal spray processes usually requires an analysis of the complex coating microstructure. In order to inspect critical areas of a coating, destructive testing methods such as the preparation of cross-sections are commonly used. In this work, the suitability of largely non-destructively measured polarisation curves for the quality assessment of thermal sprayed AISI 316L coatings is investigated. Therefore, a 3.5 % NaCl gel electrolyte was developed to prevent the corrosive medium from infiltrating the porous and micro-cracked microstructure characteristic for thermal sprayed coatings. In addition, a measuring cell based on the 3-electrode arrangement was designed to simplify the setup, reduce the measurement time and enable mobile measurements directly on the component surface at a later stage of development. The effects of process-related differences in the microstructure of HVAF and APS AISI 316L coatings on the polarisation curve was investigated by determining the corrosion current density. The microstructure of the AISI 316L coatings was analysed by optical microscope, SEM and EDS, focussing on the porosity and oxide content. The results clearly show that the potentiodynamic polarisation curves of the AISI 316L coatings differ significantly depending on the spray process used and microstructure created. Even small changes in the oxide content within a coating can be detected. Therefore, electrochemical measurement methods using gel electrolyte offer an interesting opportunity to evaluate the quality of thermal sprayed AISI 316L coatings in a largely non-destructive manner.

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