Restoration of metallic parts with cold spray application began in the automotive industry. The Department of Defense (DoD) has taken notice of its ability to cheaply and swiftly repair and restore aircraft components. Engineering and Software System Solutions, Inc. (ES3), a woman-owned small business defense and aerospace support contractor headquartered in San Diego, CA, has been awarded multiple Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to conduct in depth research to develop cold spray technologies and applications for providing dimensional and/or structural restoration. ES3 also evaluates in situ cold spray monitoring systems and assesses standard or novel non-destructive inspection (NDI) methods. This will allow Naval Stations and Air Force Bases to practice repairs using a standard produced from this study and feel confident in the technology with data produced from the research.
Under these SBIR efforts, ES3 is working with up to four different cold spray systems currently and other systems in the past. The current systems under development are both handheld and robotic and include Centerline’s SST Series P, XP, and EPX (low- and high-pressure systems), Inovati’s KM-CDS, and VRC’s Gen III. Each system is different from one another. Table 1 below provides characteristics of each system to show how they are different along with what powder ES3 is currently using for its contracts.
Table 1: Cold spray configurations for the four systems on the Navy Phase II.5& III follow on SBIR efforts.
Setting Up a Cold Spray Facility
Depending on the application setup can be as easy as shipping a system to you with simple install, or it can be as complex as designing a booth to the customer’s request and having a booth installed. Low-pressure systems typically are portable and are easily relocated for field level use. On the contrary, high-pressure systems typically require the use of a robot inside a booth for application. This would normally require a part that needs spraying to be shipped to the location; however, ES3 is tasked with translating high pressure robotic cold spray process parameters to a compatible handheld application. Figure 1 shows images of the three cold spray systems under development and evaluation.