Condition Monitoring of a Three-Cathode Cascaded Plasma Spray Torch Regarding Process Reliability

Mauer, G. and Kurze, F. and Rauwald, K.-H. and Vaßen, R.

Volume: 15 Pages:
DOI: 10.3390/ma15186203
Published: 2022

The TriplexPro™-210 plasma spray torch (Oerlikon Metco) is a three-cathode plasma generator. It became a kind of workhorse for the wide range of tasks handled at the Jülich Thermal Spray Center (JTSC). Compared to conventional single-cathode torches, the cascaded design of the nozzle suggests low fluctuations of the arc and thus high stability. However, after a certain time, degradation sets in even with such a torch, impairing the reliability of the process. It is therefore important to detect indications of performance loss in time and not only during the inspection of the deposited layer. In this study, standard samples of YSZ thermal barrier coatings were sprayed regularly over a period of two years. Operational data and feedstock characteristics were collected and correlated with the area-specific mass deposition. It turned out that the measured substrate surface temperature showed a distinct correlation. Searching for the reasons for the temperature variations, several process parameters could be ruled out as they are monitored by calibrated sensors, controlled, and their time course is recorded by the control unit. Moreover, there are other parameters, which can have a considerable impact such as the robot alignment or the substrate cooling conditions. However, the purposeful experimental variation of such variables resulted in a variability of the mass deposition being considerably smaller than observed over the two years. Thus, it can be concluded that torch degradation had a pronounced effect, too. The substrate surface temperature can be used as indicator for the torch status and the reliability of the spray process. © 2022 by the authors.

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