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Navy Expanding ‘Cold Spray’ Welding Alternative in Fleet Repair

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. – If a part breaks on a ship or submarine sailing in a conflict zone or moored at its homeport, the fix just might be done with a portable welder or a mobile workshop set up on the pier in an unconventional way, using an innovative technology known as “cold spray.”

Cold spray uses a highly-pressurized gas that fires heated metal powder at supersonic speed to lay metal onto a surface. It’s not cold, per se, but at 800 degrees Celsius or so is far cooler than traditional “hot” welding.

The technology uses a process called high deposition rate additive manufacturing. It uses various types of powders – ranging from aluminum to titanium as well as specialty powders – for hard coatings as well as customized repairs including aircraft panel fasteners, damaged pipes and shafts, corroded impellers, joint leaks and valve actuators, according to the company. It can replace worn metal coatings with metal that’s at least as strong and hard as the original coating, officials say.

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