In this work, the benefits of the Protal process were investigated, comparing adhesion and morphology of different APS thermal spray copper coatings onto an aluminum base substrate. The Protal process operates simultaneously an atmospheric thermal spray torch and a Q-switched laser (Nd:YAG) to perform surface preparation and coating deposition in a single operation. In that case, substrates are coated rough from the machine shop, i.e. without any prior surface preparation. Results obtained in this way were compared with results obtained using a classical procedure, Le, degreasing followed by sandblasting prior to coating deposition.