Title: The Intricacies of Thermal Spray: A Case To Consider Safety And Automation
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed about the inner workings of thermal spray technology. So, I wanted to recap the highlights of our conversation, to show some of the fascinating details that make thermal spray such a remarkable process.
If you’re already involved with Thermal Spray at your place of business, I think you’ll find the accompanying video interesting and enlightening.
Here at Thermal Spray Depot, we’re deep into the details of automating many of the processes and some of this video hint toward our bias of the inevitable automation transitions that companies are going to have to, soon, embrace to stay competitive.
So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive in!
The Coaxial Cable: A Multifunctional Marvel (00:00:00 – 00:02:44):
One of the most intriguing aspects of thermal spray is the coaxial cable, which plays a crucial role in the process. This cable, as I explained during the interview, serves multiple functions simultaneously. It carries the electricity needed to melt the wire, transports the wire itself, and delivers the compressed air required for atomization. The coaxial cable acts as the interface between the operator and the various elements involved in thermal spray.
To ensure operator safety, the coaxial cable is designed to handle high DC currents of up to 450 amps. Safety measures, such as fusible links, are implemented to prevent overheating and potential hazards. Loose connections can lead to excessive heat generation, as I demonstrated with my own demo unit. However, by following proper procedures and safety precautions, thermal spray can be a safe and efficient operation.
Automation and the Future of Thermal Spray (00:04:40 – 00:05:04):
As we discussed in the interview, there is a growing push for automation in thermal spray processes. The sheer amount of energy and power involved in operating the equipment can be overwhelming for a human operator. Automation not only reduces the risks associated with human error but also enhances efficiency and productivity. With automation, the stress and dangers of manual operation can be significantly reduced, making thermal spray a more accessible and reliable process.
The Importance of Tight Connections and Maintenance (00:05:23 – 00:07:09):
Maintaining tight connections is crucial in thermal spray operations. Loose connections can lead to heat generation, corrosion, and even meltdowns, as I demonstrated with my own demo unit. Regular maintenance and adherence to safety protocols are essential to prevent such issues. By ensuring all connections are tight and following proper procedures, operators can mitigate risks and maintain a safe working environment.
My Suggestions Based on the Interview:
- Emphasize Operator Training:
Given the intricacies and potential risks involved in thermal spray, it is crucial to provide comprehensive training to operators. This training should cover safety protocols, maintenance procedures, and the importance of tight connections. By equipping operators with the necessary knowledge and skills, we can ensure safe and efficient thermal spray operations.
- Invest in Automation:
As mentioned earlier, automation offers numerous benefits in thermal spray processes. Investing in automation technology can enhance productivity, reduce human error, and improve overall efficiency. By embracing automation, we can take thermal spray to new heights and unlock its full potential.
- Regular Maintenance and Inspections:
To prevent issues like loose connections and meltdowns, regular maintenance and inspections are paramount. Implementing a proactive maintenance schedule and conducting thorough inspections can help identify and address potential problems before they escalate. By prioritizing maintenance, we can ensure the longevity and reliability of thermal spray equipment.
Accidents and wear-and-tear can occur in thermal spraying, like when a personal demo unit had a meltdown due to a loose connection. In such cases, the affected parts need to be disassembled, cleaned, and if possible, salvaged for parts like the fusible link. Replacement parts can then be used to restore the system to its optimal functioning.
Transitioning to a more automated approach in thermal spraying offers several benefits for companies. Firstly, it enhances safety by reducing the risk of human error. With automation, there is less reliance on manual handling of equipment and materials, minimizing the chances of accidents or injuries. This can lead to a safer working environment for employees.
Secondly, automation improves precision and consistency in the thermal spray process. Machines can be programmed to apply coatings with a high level of accuracy, ensuring uniform thickness and coverage. This results in a higher quality end product and reduces the need for rework or corrections.
Lastly, automation increases efficiency and productivity. Machines can work continuously without fatigue or breaks, allowing for faster completion of projects. Additionally, automated systems can be optimized to minimize material waste and reduce overall production time. This can lead to cost savings for companies in terms of both time and resources.
Thermal spray is a remarkable process that continues to evolve and revolutionize various industries. By embracing safety, innovation, and continuous improvement, we can harness the full potential of thermal spray and achieve remarkable results.
If you’re considering any type of automation for your thermal spray operations, please do yourself a favor and have a conversation with me. This is a major focus for us. Yes, we’re “all things” Thermal Spray but we like to think that we can save you a ton of time and money researching automated solutions because of our experience and expertise.
Remember, safety and proper procedures are paramount. Let’s continue to explore, innovate, and push the boundaries of thermal spray technology together!
Call Bob McDemus today. Let’s start a conversation.
Note: The timestamps provided in this blog post correspond to the timestamps in the transcript of the video episode.
Beyond the Basics: Untapped Potential with Thermal Spray Innovations
There is a wide range of thermal spray applications that are commonly known:
- Corrosion protection for bridges
- Dimensional restoration of diesel engine blocks and heads
- Thermal barrier coatings on aerospace turbine blades
- CP titanium and hydroxyapatite bone growth alloys for medical implants
- Ceramic materials for electrical insulation applications
- and the list goes on…
There are lesser-known and highly interesting application for thermal spray. One is in the food industry to maintain quality and ensure longevity of special containers.
In the video above, we share a semi-automated thermal spray approach for a unique application. It is used to coat weld seams on the inside of olive oil barrels to ensure that iron oxide does not form and contaminate the olive oil. But that’s just one innovative example of how thermal spray can be used in the food industry.
Thermal spray coatings offer a variety of applications. Mainly because of their ability to provide wear resistance, corrosion protection, and improved surface properties. While olive oil barrels are a great example, several other food application ideas include:
Food processing plants: Wet and slippery metal steps and catwalks in food processing plants are hazardous. Safety is improved from spraying stainless anti-skid coatings on surfaces that require traction for walking.
Mixers and Grinders: The paddles face abrasion from mixing the ingredients of processed foods. (Not all food processing is bad for your health). Carbide and molybdenum thermal spray coatings reduce wear, ensuring a longer operational life.
Refrigeration Units: These units can be coated to prevent corrosion, especially in environments where they’re exposed to moisture or certain aggressive food products.
Packaging Machinery: Machinery involved in packaging often has wear issues with spun bearings and damaged shafts. Having thermal spray equipment along with an in-house machine shop reduces down time and repair costs. You can make your maintenance personal heroes when they rapidly rebuild damaged components on site.
Silos and Storage Tanks: Large storage units, especially those storing liquids or products that can ferment, might need coatings to prevent internal corrosion and ensure product quality.
Cooking pans: Thermal spray coatings can be used as a bond coat for non-stick PTFE or other polymer coatings.
And those are just a few examples.
The list is long, and that’s what we’re here to do. To help you in the food industry, or any industry, with real world solutions.
At Thermal Spray Depot, you have a partner at the forefront of this transformative process, ensuring your products meet the highest industry standards.
Here are some reasons to consider an automated or semi-automated thermal spray approach in the food industry specifically:
Automated food processing systems have become a necessity in large-scale production. The right coatings play a crucial role in these systems’ efficiency. Improved efficiency results in less material used for producing the coating.
Automation reduces the man-hour requirements for the spray operators. This is a unique opportunity to redeploy those saved man-hours to other areas of the manufacturing process.
The same automated technology that sprays bridges and infrastructure can be used in the food industry, or any other industry, for that matter.
Our thermal spray technologies are adaptable and can be integrated seamlessly into existing production lines. Whether you’re looking to speed up processes, minimize downtime, or enhance equipment durability, Thermal Spray Depot is equipped to help you customize solutions that drive results.
Partnering for Progress
At Thermal Spray Depot, we don’t just offer a service; we provide a partnership.
Our team collaborates with yours, understanding your specific needs, challenges, and goals. Together, we’ll strategize, innovate, and execute plans that will elevate your production standards and solidify your place at the pinnacle of the food manufacturing industry.
To discuss how Thermal Spray Depot can revolutionize your coating production strategies, reach out today. Let’s start a conversation of innovation, efficiency, and unparalleled quality together.
Call Bob McDemus “The Thermal Spray Guy” at 724-229-5791