FRCE pilots new application for cold spray tech

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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (WNCT) Fleet Readiness Center East recently hosted the first-ever U.S. trials for a new cold spray technology application and saw promising results, program officials said.

If approved, the new cold spray technology would help reduce turnaround times and decrease costs for repairs that were previously not possible using existing, approved cold spray systems.

Naval Air Systems Command materials engineers with the Advanced Technology Team at FRCE, along with representatives of VRC Metals Systems, completed the first U.S. field demonstration of an on-aircraft structural repair using a mobile, autonomous cold spray metallization system at FRCE in late 2019.

Over the course of the two-day trials, the team completed an on-aircraft repair to the windowsill of a V-22 Osprey, and also conducted an off-aircraft repair to a surplus H-1 skid tube.

“The system operated better than predicted,” said Frederick Lancaster, lead for the Cold Spray Metallization Integrated Product Team at Naval Air Systems Command. “(It) worked as planned at five sites, in five different climates, at five different times of the year. Once it was programmed, the system worked without human intervention, on aircraft, and worked faster and more precisely than a human.”

The cold spray process bonds metal to metal in a relatively low-heat environment in order to deposit a coating onto a surface, or substrate.

Solid metal powders are accelerated through a heated gas and directed toward a metallic substrate; the moving particles impact the surface and embed in the substrate, forming a strong bond.

The repairs completed during the pilot were consistent with those made using a stationary cold spray system, Lancaster said.

Once approved, the new, mobile system will support the on-site repair of aircraft materials and increased mission readiness through a rapid turnaround.

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