INFRASTRUCTURE RESEARCH PROGRAM
THERMAL SPRAY PROCESSING OF POLYMERS
Thermal spraying of polymers is gaining increased attention because the ability to apply relatively thin (0.005”) and thick (0.250”) coatings of polymers onto a wide variety of materials is seen as an effective method to produce protective barrier coatings. Thermal spraying is one viable option to industry facing environmental regulations, since it is a 100% solids process with minimal VOC’s. Thermoplastic spraying provides an environmentally-sensitive alternative to paint and other organic formulations. Polymers that have been sprayed to date include PE, PMMA, EMMA, PEEK, PPS, LCP, nylon, phenolic epoxy, Tefzel, and post consumer commingled polymer.
Polymer powder is injected into a heat source (flame or plasma) and transported to a pre-heated substrate. The thickness of the coating is governed by the number of repeated passes of the spray gun across the substrate. A large particle size or molecular weight distribution may facilitate the formation of numerous heterogeneity’s within the microstructure of the coating creating voids, trapped gasses, unmelted particles, splats, and pyrolized material.
A systematic research program was carried out to optimize the spray parameters for spraying various polymers. A field demonstration of the Thermal Spray Processing of Polymers was conducted in collaboration with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The concept and technique of spray coating of polymers was successfully demonstrated.
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