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Research gain highlighted for 'cold spray' metal additive technology

24 February 2016

The benefits of metal additive manufacturing – or ‘cold spray’ technology – are set to be enhanced by dedicated EU-funded research.

Copper deposition on aluminium
Copper deposition on aluminium

Dycomet UK, which leads the technology in this country, believes the project, that unites five partners from industry and research, will be of significance with a range of substrates.  Moreover, it says, the work will also open the door for new material combinations to be developed across a number of industrial sectors including automotive and aerospace. 

“Cold spray technology is an additive manufacturing process in which metal powders are accelerated to supersonic speeds in order to adhere to material surfaces,” says Nick Gilfillan, Dycomet UK’s managing director. “The material deposition process is based on the kinetic energy allowing variable depth coatings to build up, as required, without thermal defect in the substrate.” 

He explains that the main advantages of low pressure cold gas spraying are the lack of heat input, high processing speed and low investment cost. “With both our portable low pressure and fixed high pressure variants, the deposited layer can also be directly machined or re-worked immediately after the process,” Nick Gilfillan adds.  

The research project – ‘Efficient Manufacturing of Laser Assisted Cold-Sprayed Components’ (EMLACS) – aims to improve adhesion on different substrates by using high speed laser surface structuring.  New material combinations can then be developed for industrial use, with the deposition of metallic materials – copper or aluminium – on, for example, carbon fibre and glass fibre reinforced substrates.

In addition, the new technology can be applied in novel ways in electronics manufacturing – such as on a housing for fanless heat removal from electronic components.
“As a distributor and developer for cold spray equipment – with Dycomet Europe – we have seen significant interest in a wide range of sectors in just our first few months of operation and we believe the technology is opening up exciting opportunities for both designers and manufacturers alike,” says Nick Gilfillan. 

“Now, with important research support such as that being conducted under the EMLACS banner, the resultant benefits and advantages are set to become even more clear-cut. We look forward to being able to present the relevant findings to the marketplace in the near future,” he concludes.

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