A free falling experiment was conducted as a simulation of a thermal spray process. A flattening behavior of the freely fallen metal droplet impinged onto a flat substrate surface was fundamentally investigated. The substrates were kept at various designated temperatures, and the substrates coated with gold by PVD were also prepared in order to investigate the effect of a wetting at the splat/substrate interface on the flattening behavior of the droplet. A falling atmosphere was atmospheric pressure nitrogen to prevent the oxidation of the melted droplet, and the experiments under low-pressure condition were also conducted. A transition of the splat morphology was recognized in atmospheric pressure nitrogen experiments, that is, the splat morphology on a room temperature substrate was a splash type, whereas that on a high temperature substrate was a disk type. The cross-section microstructure of the splat obtained on the room temperature substrate was an isotropic coarse grain, whereas that on the high temperature substrate was a fine columnar. The grain size changed transitionally with increasing the substrate temperature. Transition temperature on the gold-coated substrate was higher than that on the substrate without coating. The cross-section microstructure of the splat obtained under low-pressure was a fine columnar even on the room temperature substrate. The results indicate that the metal droplet wets better under low-pressure condition than in atmospheric pressure nitrogen condition, and the wetting has a significant role in the flattening of the droplet.

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