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.