According to the experts, when people think of additive manufacturing, they usually think of 3D printing. However, whilst being an extremely innovative technology it does have its limitations in terms of size and the applications for which it can be used.
GE Global Research is working on an additive manufacturing method to address those limitations. Using a spray paint technique known as Cold Spray or 3D painting, the process builds upon metal surfaces. Metal powders are sprayed from a nozzle at high velocities to add material to metal objects. During the Cold Spray process, a strong bond is created and only a minimal amount of heat is transferred. As a result, the process is safer than welding and still results in a durable end product.
According to the researchers, Cold Spray could enable engineers to extend the lifespan of critical components. It could also help transform repair processes for industrial and aircraft components such as rotors, blades, shafts, propellers, and gear boxes.
The Cold Spray technique is claimed to be particularly attractive for the production or repair of larger structures, which are too big for today’s powder-bed additive manufacturing processes. Researchers within GE’s Oil and Gas business are now looking at using Cold Spray as an alternative way of coating parts used in drilling operations.
Anteneh Kebbede, manager of the coating and surface technologies laboratory at the GE Research Centre 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.”
What is GE Global Research
GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE’s businesses. Their scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for their businesses and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems.
If you want to know more or have any experience, however minimal, of 3D painting or Cold Spray, let us know by posting a comment below. For any other engineering questions you might have, why not contact us at www.prv-engineering.co.uk
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