Whether a dealer, a collector or the proud owner of a single precious vintage vehicle, you know exactly how hard it can be to keep them maintained and in the best condition. As time passes and your vintage car gets older and older, there will be elements of ageing that start to show and some parts may need replacing. The trouble with older vehicles is sourcing those parts and in many instances owners now look to find ways of prolonging the life of their vehicle, rather than starting the long and difficult search for a rage engine block or shift fork.
Thermal spray technology has been used in the automotive industry for many years. It is a standard process in the manufacturing and maintenance of many modern cars but thermal spray coatings could also be a great way of enhancing and prolonging the life of a vintage vehicle. The process involves improving the engineering function of the car through the spraying of a thermal coating which is designed to protect. Thermal spray coatings have been used in the automotive industry to improve electrical insulation and lubrication as well as prolong the life of elements of the car, through the prevention of wear, tear, scuffing and crucially for older vehicles, corrosion.
There are many different applications of thermal spray coatings for vintage cars but you’ll commonly find the process used for shift forks, engine blocks, cylinder liners, turbochargers, con rods, synchronising rings and many other internal elements of your vehicle.
There are different kinds of thermal spray technology too which may be used for different purpose as follows:
Also known as low velocity oxygen and fuel spraying involves the projection of molten material onto the surface to create the coating. The spray comes out in powder form and is fed through the centre of a flame and it is often used to spray surfaces which cannot be exposed to high temperatures. Combustion spraying is often used for repairs, efficiency enhancement and restoring the shape/dimensions of a surface or component.
A highly energetic and efficient plasma jet sprays a melted and highly accelerated ‘coating’ of particles onto the surface. The heat source is generated by a high density arc current and pure metal coatings as well as alloys, carbides and ceramics can be sprayed this way. It is used commonly for corrosion resistance, oxidation resistance and protection against wear and tear.
Using two electrically charged metallic wires, this type of thermal spraying involves the creation of an arc using these wires. The wires feed through a spray gun system and can reach temperatures in excess of 4000 degrees. This particular spraying method forms a very high bond strength between the coating and the surface and the coating is usually denser than a flame sprayed version.
Protecting and prolonging the life of your vintage vehicle is entirely possible with the right thermal spray technology.
Thermal Spray Systems is a popular technology used to improve and enhance the surface of a solid material, restoring it to its best or improving it. The process is designed to add many benefits and it can help protect against: wear, cavitation, corrosion, abrasion, heat and erosion. It is used in many industries to further enhance the quality of finished work and can extend the life of components of many different machines from vehicles to factory equipment.
The process of thermal spraying involves the spread of a thermal spray coating onto the chosen surface. It involves the projection of particles onto the fully clean and prepare surface and a combination of thermal and kinetic energies leads to these particles flattening and spreading on the surface, joining together and creating the full, cover-all coating.
Thermal spray coatings are used for a variety of applications in industry. They provide a wide range of functions and are often used to treat aeroplanes to protect them from extremes of temperature and the elements. They are also used to protect buildings from environmental conditions such as rain and humidity. Thermal spray coatings are also widely used in the automotive industry, to enhance longevity of vehicles and bring them back to their best.
From a more technical perspective thermal coatings may be used specifically for:
This type of coating provides excellent corrosion protection and involves applying a metal coating which is cathodic to the base. For example, applying a nickel alloy coating to a steel base would be considered a cathodic coating. It provides a strong, protective barrier and is recommended as a thicker coating.
Thermal spaying is an established choice for surfacing metal parts in industry and in vehicles. It can increase the lifespan of a component or improve its engineering performance. Thermal spray coatings are usually applied to elements which have been worn or corroded such as bearings or printing rolls.
In industries such as electronic packaging and the automotive and aerospace industries ceramic dielectric coating is a common choice. Dieletric coatings are usually pure aluminium oxide and they are sprayed at an extremely high density, allowing them to withstand thousands of volts, as is necessary in industries which involve significant volumes of live electricity.
Thermal spray coatings are a commonplace industrial technology which many businesses can benefit from, enhancing the quality of their equipment and ensuring their end products are finished to the highest standard.
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