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Revolutionising Remanufacturing with Cold Spray

2 August, 2023

In today’s fast-paced world, industries are continuously seeking ways to become more sustainable and cost-effective. Remanufacturing, a process that involves restoring used products to their original condition, is gaining significant traction as a viable solution. In this blog post, we will explore what remanufacturing is and how it has traditionally relied on welding, despite its shortcomings. We will then delve into the exciting advancements in remanufacturing made possible by cold spray technology, which not only restores geometries but also protects against corrosion and resurfaces components. Finally, we’ll discuss the booming remanufacturing market and its promising future prospects.

What is Remanufacturing? 

Remanufacturing is an eco-friendly and cost-effective process that involves restoring used products to their original condition, extending their lifecycle and reducing waste. In this way, remanufacturing helps mitigate the environmental impact associated with manufacturing entirely new products. It also allows businesses and consumers to benefit from high-quality, reliable components at a fraction of the cost of new ones. From automotive parts to heavy machinery and electronics, remanufacturing finds its application in various industries.

Welding in Remanufacturing – Bridging the Gap and Its Shortcomings

In the context of remanufacturing, welding has been a widely used technique to repair and rejoin worn-out components. Welding involves melting and fusing metals together, making it suitable for repairing cracks and breaks in various components. However, despite its popularity, welding comes with some inherent shortcomings that limit its application in certain scenarios.

One of the significant issues with welding is the potential for cracking in the heat-affected zone. The intense heat during welding can introduce stresses that lead to cracks and compromise the structural integrity of the remanufactured part. Additionally, welding can cause warping or distortion of the component, resulting in misalignments and poor fit.

Another challenge is the excessive heat generated during welding, which can lead to thermal distortion or even burn-through in thin materials. This restricts the use of welding in delicate or intricate parts. Furthermore, the introduction of additional heat can alter the material’s microstructure and mechanical properties, affecting the component’s performance.

Cold Spray Technology – Redefining Remanufacturing Possibilities

To overcome the limitations of traditional welding in remanufacturing, a cutting-edge technology called “Cold Spray” has emerged as a game-changer. Cold spray is a solid-state coating and restoration process that uses a high-velocity gas jet to propel fine metallic particles onto a substrate. The impact of these particles forms a strong bond, effectively “cold-welding” the material without generating excessive heat.

The cold spray process allows for the restoration of geometries, even on delicate or heat-sensitive components, as it does not introduce significant heat. This method is ideal for repairing cracks, resurfacing, and building up worn-out surfaces, ensuring the part’s original shape and functionality are retained.

Moreover, cold spray technology offers excellent corrosion protection, as the deposited particles create a dense and homogenous coating. This protective layer enhances the component’s longevity, making it well-suited for remanufacturing applications in harsh environments.

 The Booming Remanufacturing Market

 The remanufacturing market has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, driven by the need for sustainable practices and cost-efficient solutions. According to available market data, the global market for automotive parts remanufacturing was estimated at US$53.8 billion in 2020. It is anticipated to experience continued growth and is expected to reach US$96.4 billion by 2027, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.7% during the period from 2020 to 2027.

The engines and related parts segment is also expected to contribute significantly to the market growth, projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.3% and reach US$28.6 billion by the end of 2027. Additionally, the Transmission segment is projected to grow at a revised 8.2% CAGR over the following seven years after an early study of the pandemic’s commercial repercussions and the economic crisis it caused.

China is anticipated to be a key player in the remanufacturing market, expected to experience remarkable growth with a CAGR of 12.5%. Meanwhile, the US market is estimated to be worth $14.7 billion, indicating substantial opportunities for businesses to capitalize on remanufacturing initiatives.

In conclusion, remanufacturing presents a compelling opportunity for industries to adopt sustainable practices and reap significant cost savings. While traditional welding has been a go-to method for remanufacturing, it comes with its limitations. Thanks to the advancements in cold spray technology, remanufacturing processes can now be more efficient, reliable, and versatile. As the remanufacturing market continues to grow, businesses must embrace innovative solutions like cold spray to stay competitive, environmentally conscious, and economically prosperous.

What are the benefits of cold spray? 

A unique benefit of the cold spray manufacturing process is that it can be used to fuse dissimilar materials, which means we can exploit the advantages of multiple properties in a singular part.

For example, you can:
  • apply copper to steel for improved thermal performance

  • apply nickel to cast iron for repair – without distortion during welding

  • mix ceramics with titanium for improved wear resistance

  • apply tantalum to aluminium for radiation and electromagnetic interference shielding
Other major benefits of cold spray include:
  • very low thermal load for working with thermally sensitive and dissimilar materials

  • rapid deposition rate ideal for production speeds and volumes

  • mechanical properties similar to highly deformed bulk material

  • deposition results can be in compressive residual stress for better as-built mechanical properties of many geometries

  • no heat affected zone (HAZ) ensures a quality bond without changing the microstructure and scaffold

  • no limit on deposition thickness

  • a ‘greener’ technology with no toxic fumes and significantly reduced waste and emissions

  • less reliance on the global supply chain for parts or repairs – a must during an era of shortages

  • extremely cost-effective compared to replacing parts

What are common cold spray materials and metals?

Common metals, such as: 

  • Titanium and titanium alloys
  • Invar
  • Aluminium and blends
  • Nickel blends
  • Copper and blends
  • Metal carbides
  • Zinc-based blends
  • Silver and blends
  • Tin-based blends
  • Tantalum
  • Gold

And, high performance alloys such as: 

  • AISI 4330, 
  • Ti-6AI-4V,
  • Inconel 718 
  • Invar36.

Learn more about which materials you can combine to combat wear, corrosion, and more.  

Common coating and repair cold spray applications:

There are endless applications for cold spray coatings. Easily repair and prevent wear and corrosion, and rapidly restore metal parts and coatings without disassembly or heat-related issues.

Deposit hard-wearing metals such as titanium, steel and tungsten to enhance wear resistance on new or existing parts. Hard-wearing metals can also be fused to existing, dissimilar metal parts for repair and to enhance lifespan.

Rapidly add ferrous metals to dissimilar metal parts to harness inductive and conductive technology in cookware, manufacturing and more.

Use TKF to apply corrosion-resistant materials such as titanium to new or existing parts, enhancing their lifespan in corrosive environments across marine, chemical, and oil and gas applications.

Use TKF systems to rapidly repair metal parts, restoring them to working order in applications across aerospace, mining, defence, boiler making and more. The systems spray metal in seconds, so you can restore parts in minutes.

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