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MIT Study Looks at Sprayed Metal Coatings

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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Researchers based out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that melting through spray painting can inhibit metal bonding, which has implications for certain coatings processes, as well as 3-D printing.

The research, which was conducted by postdocs Mostafa Hassani-Gangaraj and David Veysset, as well as professors Keith Nelson and Christopher Schuh, involved the use of a high-speed camera, which documented that spray coatings could melt parts of a metal surface, which prevents the coating itself from sticking.

Coatings Research

Customarily, when two pieces of metal bond, each piece must melt a bit or molten metal must be introduced between the pieces, noted MIT. After the metal solidifies again, a solid bond forms.

MIT’s counterintuitive discovery happened thanks to the use of a high-speed camera that used 16 separate charged-coupled device imaging chips that could record images in three nanoseconds. What this means is that the device was able to capture individual particles being sprayed onto a surface at supersonic velocities, according to the institution. The research team observed a process similar to the spray painting used for metallic coatings.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Researchers based out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that melting through spray painting can inhibit metal bonding, which has implications for certain coatings processes, as well as 3-D printing.

Prior to the use of the camera, observation was limited because “you can’t see it, you can’t tell what’s happening and no one has ever been able to watch the moment when a particle impacts and sticks,” Schuh said. This resulted in ongoing controversy as to whether or not the metal particles actually melted as they struck the surface.

Melting Metal

The research team’s images highlight that, under certain conditions, some particles being sprayed do melt a surface, which prevents them from sticking. Before the surface resolidifies, the particles bounce away, leaving the still-molten surface.

The best bonding, research found, results from impacting particles and impacted surfaces that remain in a solid state but splash outward in a way reminiscent of a liquid. The researchers’ findings indicate that “to stick metal to metal, we need to make a splash without liquid. A solid splash sticks, and a liquid one doesn’t,” Schuh said.

In the future, this research could be used for coating engine components, in order to reuse worn parts.

“With an old engine from a large earth-moving machine, it costs a fortune to throw it away, and it costs a fortune to melt and recast it,” Schuh said. “Instead, you can clean it off and use a spray process to renew the surface.”

The team’s findings can also be used in 3-D printing.

“What this work promises is an accurate and mathematical approach to determining the optimal conditions to ensure a solid bond,” Schuh said. “It’s mathematical rather than empirical.”

The research was funded by the U.S. Army through MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, the U.S. Army Research Office and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.


Tagged categories: Coatings Technology; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Research and development

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