Process control for thermal-spray deposition of thermoset coatings using computer simulation

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Hu, X ; Bao, Y ; Gawne, DT ; Zhang, T (2016)

Thermal spraying is a green solvent-free process with the potential of applying polymer coatings to large components in-house or on-site without the need for prolonged drying. Almost no systematic research has been undertaken on thermally spraying thermoset coatings owing to the complexity and difficulty of managing the curing process. An adequately cured thermoset coating could not be deposited by thermal spraying owing to insufficient cumulative time above the cure temperature. Preheating and post-heating the substrate under a constant heat source were not successful as they led to non-uniform curing, residual stress and the risk of overheating. This study develops and validates a computer model that simulates the deposition of thermoset coatings on metal substrates using thermal spraying and high-energy infrared irradiation. The model uses readily-available commercial software and enables precise control of the coating process to improve energy efficiency and coating quality. Further research showed that evenly cured coatings could be achieved by using variable heat fluxes and controlled utilization of inward conduction from the outer surface layers. Self curing during cooling was significant and maybe employed to increase energy efficiency. The thickness of the metal substrate was shown to be an important variable as it acts as a heat sink and, for heavy sections, can substantially increase energy consumption. The results indicate a need for sufficiently accurate process control and provide a suitable methodology for the deposition of thermoset coatings.
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