The alloys chosen for study in this project and the heat treatment regimes used will be determined, in part, using computer models developed at WPI. Based on extensive laboratory experimentation and drawing on large databases of metallic properties assembled under previous projects funded by ARL at WPI, the models allow custom powders to be designed for specific cold spray applications. . “You can do it by trial and error,” Cote said, “but it’s much more efficient to design new alloys and new heat treatment protocols with our models and then test them to verify their properties. WPI’s modeling and experience are what sets us apart from other research teams.
As an example of how custom-designed cold spray powders could help improve military readiness, Cote cites helicopter gearboxes, which require frequent repairs. “If you
Côté (left) works with Kyle Tsaknopoulos, a postdoctoral fellow, on research.
need to replace such a part, it can take months or even years, and the cost is significant, assuming the part is available or even still being manufactured. To repair a gearbox by cold spraying, you need alloys with high strength, toughness and ductility. Our methodology will allow us to develop powders that can be used to efficiently repair or even fabricate parts like this and quickly get helicopters back into the air. “
While the ARL award will primarily focus on alloys for repairs, Cote noted that “cold spraying is a foundational technology with a wide variety of applications, in the military and beyond.” As part of the research program, a team of co-principal investigators from several WPI disciplines will explore promising new applications, including the use of cold spraying to apply copper coatings to give equipment antibacterial properties.
Researchers in WPI’s robotic engineering program will explore the use of multi-axis robots to automate cold spraying. “The military is particularly interested in portable cold spray systems, but the technology can also be used on a larger scale – in industry, for example – and it will be exciting to see how robots can help expand the field. use of this technology and other additive manufacturing. process.
“I think there is a lot of potential for this technique. With the work that we’re going to do on powder development, in robotics and a number of other areas, I think we’re going to go a long way with cold spraying. There really are endless possibilities.