New Cold Spray Welding Technique for Ship Maintenance – NAVSEA


  • To enhance ship maintenance and extend the life of ship components a new cold spray technique has been developed at TIIL of NAVSEA.
  • A Cold Spray Sprint exercise to promote this technique into ship maintenance was conducted at the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center on January 15-16.
  • Benefits of cold spray are quicker maintenance work times and reduced costs of reusing ship components.
  • The cold spray technique can replace “brush plating and epoxy repair”, which are inefficient and have health risks.

The Tactical Innovation Implementation Lab (TIIL) of the US Naval Seas Systems Command (NAVSEA) 04×3, has led the development of a new cold spray technique, which can enhance routine ship maintenance and extend the life of older ship components, reports Naval Technology.

How does the technique work?

The cold spray process works by blasting a combination of metal powder and an inert gas at a ship’s component at supersonic velocity. This combination is usually made of hydrogen or nitrogen. The impact flattens the particles and welds them to the component, essentially creating a brand new part, expanding its lifespan by years.

Why is it called Cold Spray?

Cold spray refers to the low temperature at which the bonding process occurs, normally 212°F to 930°F. Traditional welding methods start at around 5,000°F. It is the high velocity at which the powder is fired at the component that causes bonding, not the high heat, which means that the metallurgical properties of a part are not distorted or damaged. Cold spray is also useful in bonding more fragile non-metals, such as ceramics.

The Cold Spray Sprint

TIIL director Janice Bryant said: “This process allows us to take something worn and reconfigure it to something new.” From 15-16 January, the TIIL led a Cold Spray Sprint exercise in order to advance the implementation of cold spray into ship maintenance, at US Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Keyport’s Advanced Technology Innovation Center in Washington State. TIIL designed the sprints as fast-paced events focused on accelerating the delivery of cold spray to naval shipyards.

Bryant added: “The sprint is not a meeting and not a working group. It is work, and takes actions needed to transition a technology creating [a] new capability to get ships done.” Representatives from four US Navy repair centers, Naval Air Systems Command, and the US Coast Guard, as well as senior civilian scientists, took part in the exercise.

Why a new technique?

NUWC Keyport chemical engineer Brian Dougherty, who was present at the exercise, said that the main benefits of cold spray are quicker maintenance work times and reduced costs of reusing ship components. “We’ve hit the limits of efficiency on older processes,” said Dougherty. “Our main focus is restoring hardware and extending longevity.”

Efficient and Safe

Associated mechanical engineer Alex Frank, who works at the NUWC’s Rapid Prototyping and Fabrication Technology Division, added that the cold spray technique can surpass traditional welding jobs and has several other uses, such as replacing “brush plating and epoxy repair”, which involve hazardous chemicals and can take days to complete. TIIL noted the potential for cold spray maintenance to be carried out by an articulated robot in the future, which could be sent into space or on a ship or submarine, to complete repairs much more quickly than human crews. US Navy engineers have previously demonstrated a cold spray additive technique as a new approach to naval aircraft repairs.

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Source: Naval Technology



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