The quality and durability of coatings produced by virtually all thermal spray techniques could be improved by increasing the velocity with which coating particles impact the substrate. Additionally, better control of the chemical and thermal environment seen by the particles during flight is crucial to the quality of the coating. A high velocity thermal spray device is under development through a BMDO SBIR project which provides significantly higher impact velocity for accelerated particles than is currently available with existing thermal spray devices. This device utilizes a pulsed plasma as the accelerative medium for powders introduced into the barrel. Recent experiments using a Control-Vision diagnostic system showed that the device can accelerate stainless steel and WC-Co powders to velocities ranging from 1500 to 2200 m/s. These high velocities are accomplished without the use of combustible gases, and without the need of a vacuum chamber, while maintaining an inert atmosphere for the particles during acceleration. The high velocities corresponded well to modeling predictions, and these same models suggest that velocities as high as 3000 m/s or higher are possible.

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