GE researchers experiment with 3D painting to build up and repair parts (w/ Video)

Nov 08, 2013

A potential "fountain of youth" for metal, General Electric researchers announced the use of a process called "cold spray," in which metal powders are sprayed at high velocities to build a part or add material to repair an existing part. Cold spray is part of GE's expanded additive manufacturing toolkit.

Anteneh Kebbede, Manager of the Coating and Surface Technologies Lab at the GE Research Center said, "In addition to being able to build new parts without welding or machining, what's particularly exciting about cold spray as an innovative, 3D process is that it affords us the opportunity to restore parts using materials that blend in and mirror the properties of the original part itself. This extends the lifespan of parts by years, or possibly by decades, ultimately providing improved customer value."

Spray technologies are particularly attractive for the production of large structures, which are challenging for today's powder-bed processes due to equipment size limitations. The cold spray technique has the potential to scale up to build larger parts, with the only limitation being the size of the area over which metal powders can be applied.

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Cold spray—also known as 3D painting—demonstrates a unique marriage of materials, process, and product function which can, in the immediate future, transform repair processes for industrial and aircraft components such as rotors, blades, shafts, propellers, and gear boxes. Since cold spray does not require heat, like common repair processes such as welding, it allows a repaired part to be restored close to its original condition. In GE's Oil and Gas business, GE researchers are exploring cold spray as an alternate way to repair or coat parts involved in oil and gas drilling and turbo machinery.

Cold spray's future benefits include extended product lifespan and reduced manufacturing time and material costs, all of which translate into significant customer benefits.

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User comments : 5

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1 / 5 (1) Nov 08, 2013
I don't understand. I remember hearing about this process being in use at least 4-5 years ago. This simply isn't new.
1 / 5 (11) Nov 08, 2013
Flame spraying? Plasma spraying?

As far as I can see it's just fusion by kinetic energy.......

But I did not register the acoustics that a hyper velocity gas creates, nor did I see glazing and the glow as the particles welded into the surface layer....

I did not see it as WELDING into the surface.. more like coating the surface...

Hmmmmmmmmm rebuilding hard faced metal parts, like gears, cams, bearings etc...

Ho-Hum churnalisim.
1 / 5 (11) Nov 09, 2013
As far as I can see it's just fusion by kinetic energy.......

I think you could see farther if you looked. It's metal powder and light from a 200 W laser.
Hmmmmmmmmm rebuilding hard faced metal parts, like gears, cams, bearings etc...

It's "additive manufacturing," as opposed to drilling/milling parts which is subtractive manufacturing.

If the numerous benefits of the process aren't immediately apparent to you, click on the link provided at the end of the article to GE's page on additive manufacturing.
1 / 5 (11) Nov 09, 2013
Late edit>

And I often look too far.

Sorry, Humpty - the cold spray method doesn't use heat, so I was wrong about the laser for that. GE's making jet engine parts using the laser/metal powder. I need to learn more about it!
1 / 5 (11) Nov 09, 2013
Later edit>>

It's metal powder and gases propelling the metal through nozzles at hypersonic velocity. The kinetic energy _does_ impart heat in the process, and actually welds the metal to the substrate.

See: http://ge.gegloba...pray-leo
A quote from that page:
We propel metal powders at a very high speed using high pressure gases, and spray them onto a substrate. The impact velocities are in the order of one kilometer a second. The kinetic energy stored in the particles is sufficient to deform and locally heat the surface of the powder particles to a point that they weld to the substrate.

The cold spray method can be used to make/repair larger parts than the metal powder/laser method.

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