Abstract

Plasma spray coating has achieved outstanding technological and commercial progress. However the underlying fundamentals still require a better understanding to overcome some limitations coming from, in particular, the instabilities of the arc and the strong erosion of the electrodes. In this paper we present experimental investigations of the fluctuating behavior of a Sulzer Metco F4 gun operated at atmosphere. The temporal evolution of the torch voltage and current, and of the plasma jet emission have been measured, hi addition, an optical fiber inserted inside the gun allows to measure fluctuations of the arc emission directly. Depending on the external parameters, different modes of operation have been identified. In the "restrike" mode which prevails for spraying-relevant operation conditions, detailed analysis of the voltage signals and corresponding arc and jet light emission reveals different categories of voltage drops corresponding to arc interruptions or reconnections. Spectral analysis of the different fluctuation signals shows clearly-defined peaks in the frequency range 3-30 kHz which are attributed to the arc motion and restrike inside the torch. The dependence of these peaks on operation conditions in terms of gas flows and composition, and gas injection geometry is presented. In addition a study of the effect of electrode aging on the torch fluctuations is reported.

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