There has been a lot of discussion and analysis on the benefits of cold spray versus thermal spray adhesive for use in manufacturing. Both are primarily used for repair purposes and can be used together to provide greater strength, durability, and longevity to a variety of parts and components.
This article is my opinion as a manufacturing industry professional and a manager of many aerospace customer-based projects. My intent here is not to sway you one way or the other but rather to present the facts as I see them.
My goal is to help you make the decision that is best for your company based upon your level of experience and understanding of repair technologies. First, let’s look at cold-spray technology. Cold spray is a form of thermoplastics and adhesives and is the most common type of repairing material used by the aerospace and automotive manufacturing industry.
Most recently it has become an alternative to the metal cold-tack repair technology that has been a staple in the fabrication world for decades. The problem with using the cold spray in the metal fabrication realm is that cold spray does not create a heat barrier to protect the metal from thermal movement during the repair process.
This means that when the repair is complete the repaired area must be heated up before the next application of metalworking filler. This process creates an undesirable build-up of metals on the workpiece that does not have to be there. I speak from experience on this point. This specific Cold Spray vs Thermal Spray article should also clarify tons of crucial information about the two and which option is best.
I have repaired many metal components and aircraft and have seen areas of excess metal build-up on completed products. In addition, I have seen instances where improperly applied metal fillers allowed moisture into key areas of the aircraft, which resulted in the component failure and parts being unusable.
The other benefit to cold-tack versus thermal-spray to maintenance techniques is the ease of implementation. It takes less time to apply the metal transfer coating when using cold-tack and less time to perform the filler-less metal repair when using thermal spray. This saves production and labor costs for companies that must utilize both techniques.
These savings are passed on to the customer by lower pricing on finished products. In other words, the end product is of higher quality because the techniques are implemented at the same time with the same or lower effort.
To understand why cold-tack versus thermal spray is not a simple price comparison without understanding the differences between these two manufacturing techniques, you need to understand the difference in metals and their properties.
All metals conduct heat energy and heat is transferred in one way or another through the metal when weight is applied to the metal. The thermal energy is in the form of radiant energy or the amount of heat produced in the form of radiation.
In comparison, the cold spray does not transfer heat energy to the workpiece but instead it releases metal gas and metal particles at very high velocities. Cold spray is used primarily to remove stubborn burrs and smoothed edges, as well as dents and manufacturing laminates.
The concept of cold-spray technology can be applied to many different applications. Cold spray is commonly used for component repair and maintenance including vehicle engines, spark plugs, filters, spark arrestors, mountings, and bolts.
Cold-spray components have a higher degree of tolerance to wear and tear and are therefore better suited for high production level applications such as auto and truck engines. Some examples of these applications include engine parts that must withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and extreme temperatures.
Cold spray components also have a lower incidence of catastrophic failures, which is attributed primarily to the fact that only a small area of the metal is exposed to direct heat and pressure. The cold-spray method is superior to MTU maintenance because it provides a safe way to service and repair metallic or all-metal engine parts.
It is a process that requires expensive machine shop equipment and expensive labor. On the other hand, repairing and maintaining vehicle engine parts with cold spray technology requires only a standard shop machine and a few basic hand tools.
In addition, this type of repair and maintenance technique also allows for faster repair times and less preventive maintenance. Cold spray finishes and seals more effectively, which translates to less time for work and reduced repair costs, and higher productivity.
Standard aero component services employ cold liquid spray systems to provide efficient repair techniques. Cold spray technologies have been proven to be more effective and cost-effective in the repair and maintenance of automotive engine parts.
Cold spray products are rapidly replacing the standard metal applications and related services because they are simply more applicable and practical.