Depositing Al-Based Metallic Coatings onto Polymer Substrates by Cold Spray
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The feasibility of depositing aluminum onto thermoplastic substrates via cold spray (CS) was investigated. Dense coatings of 7075 Al and CP Al (commercial purity) were achieved on three substrates—polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyetherimide (PEI), and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) using an iterative optimization process. 7075 Al deposition yielded low deposition efficiencies (DEs) and low thicknesses but high adhesive strengths, while CP Al deposition led to high DEs and thicknesses but relatively low adhesive strengths. PEEK and PEI were more suitable substrates for cold spray than ABS, which suffered from surface erosion and substrate distortion. Two key factors were identified that influenced the DE and adhesive strength of the coating. The first factor was the bond layer, the initial few particle layers that fused with the substrate to allow subsequent buildup. The bond layer was influenced by the substrate hardness, yield strength, glass transition temperature, and impact strength, as well as the differences in thermal expansion coefficients of Al and the polymer substrates. The second factor was the CS process parameters selected, as the bond layer and the build-up layers may require different process conditions in order to optimize both bonding strength and coating strength, respectively.
Keywordsadhesive strength cold spray deposition behaviors metallization of polymers polymer substrate
The authors acknowledge financial support from the Army Research Lab (ARL) under contract no. W911NF-11-2-0014. The authors also thank VRC Metal Systems, especially Mr. Rob Hrabe, for helpful discussions and assistance with the interpretation of results.
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