A traditional plasma spray gun consists of an anode and a cathode. During spraying small particles of anode material of either copper or tungsten, depending on the brand of the gun, will be worn off and deposited in the coating. The size and frequency of the particles from a copper anode has generally a dramatic appearance (in the beginning or at the end of its life) whereas a tungsten nozzle normally behaves more randomly during its life. Tungsten particles can therefore be expected anywhere in a plasma sprayed coating. Unfortunately the material properties of tungsten is not very compatible with a thermal barrier coating of partially stabilized zirconia and it is shown that a contamination will cause a catastrophic failure, if located in, for a thermal barrier, a critical region. The behavior of tungsten at elevated temperatures is investigated and clearly show the detrimental effect of tungsten on the life and performance of a thermal barrier coating.

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