Pressure inside the spray chamber plays a key role during coatings manufacturing by thermal spraying and coating properties can be strongly affected by the selected pressure value. Spraying at low pressure results in a longer plasma jet length, higher particle velocity, lower coating porosity and higher purity and phase stability. For what concerns plasma-particle interactions, a reduction of pressure value drastically decreases heat transfer towards particles, therefore high power plasma equipment must be used to achieve a suitable melting degree of sprayed powders. Effects of low pressure values are well known, but few investigation have been carried out on effects of pressure for values higher than 1,000 mbar. In this paper a preliminary evaluation of pressure effects on plasma jet modifications, particle velocity and coatings microstructure is presented. By using the very innovative CAPS (Controlled Atmosphere Plasma Spraying) system, Ni-20%Al powders were sprayed at different pressure values, up to 3,600 mbar. The length and width of the visible part of the plasma jet was measured and controlled. Average particle velocity was also evaluated as a function of pressure. Coatings, manufactured on stainless steel substrates, were characterized by means of scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction and Vickers microhardness measurements. Results indicate that the higher the spraying pressure the lower the plasma jet length and particle velocity; but also a lower selective evaporation of aluminum and higher microhardness values were observed.

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