This paper presents an overview of the engineering and innovation behind BMW’s use of thermal spraying in the production of automotive engines at its light metal foundry in Landshut, Germany. It discusses the factors that drive engine development at BMW, the different approaches in play for improving the performance of cast aluminum crankcases, and the opportunities made possible by thermal spray technology. It describes the aluminum crankcase production process, from die casting to honing, with emphasis on BMW’s state-of-the-art implementation of twin wire arc spraying. It explains how the spraying process is controlled and how key process steps and parameters are monitored and optimized in real time along with coating properties and microstructures. If a coating defect is detected, it is documented on the fly and, in many cases, corrected in a subsequent process step. A few examples of defect detection at work are presented.

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