The World’s Fastest Metal Parts Using Cold Spray
June 6, 2022
Supersonic Particle Deposition/ Cold Spray
Supersonic Particle Deposition (SPD) or Cold Spray (CS) is an additive manufacturing process. During this materials consolidation process, micron-sized particles of a metal or alloy are accelerated through a spray gun fitted with a De Laval rocket nozzle using a heated high-pressure gas such as helium or nitrogen (1). The particles exit at supersonic velocities and consolidate upon impacting a solid surface with sufficient energy to cause plastic deformation and bonding with the underlying material. See Fig.1 below.
This high-energy solid-state coating and powder consolidation process is an efficient method for the application of metals, metal alloys and metal blends for numerous applications. The absence of heat in the process makes it ideal for use with reactive materials such as titanium, aluminium and magnesium. Solid-state processing enables thick coatings to be applied without compromising the dimensional tolerance or underlying metallurgy of a parent part, making cold spray ideal for reclamation and repair processes. Cold spray can also be used for building parts additively. The most exciting characteristic of cold spray is the speed with which it can deposit material with deposit rates of up to 6 kg per hour.
SPEE3D – Steve and Byron’s Story – From Solar Cars to Additive Manufacturing
With a mission to make additive manufacturing easier, Byron Kennedy and Steven Camilleri founded SPEE3D to make metal parts with speed, consistent quality and reduced costs. SPEE3D printers enable the most affordable metal additive manufacturing process in the world; they make metal parts the fastest way possible, leveraging metal cold spray technology to produce industrial quality metal parts in just minutes, rather than days or weeks. SPEE3D uses a patented process that uses metal cold spray technology rather than relying on high-power lasers and expensive gases which allows the flexibility of metal 3D printing at normal production costs. The process uses compressed air instead of helium or nitrogen for propelling the powder.
Byron and Steven have worked together for over 15 years. They initially met as members of the Charles Darwin University World Solar Car Challenge team and raced the Desert Rose together between 1987 and 2005 (1). In 2000 the Desert Rose was awarded the world speed record of 107kmph for solar cars.
In 2002 they formed In Motion Technology (IMT) to commercialise the axial flux motor technology developed for the Desert Rose. This motor technology is now used around the world and is one of the most successful commercial spinoffs from solar car racing. With the proceeds of the successful sale of IMT the pair formed SPEE3D.
The new additive manufacturing technology developed by SPEE3D known as Supersonic 3D Deposition (SP3D) (2) shoots material through a jet engine nozzle at speeds to Mach 3 and is deposited onto a substrate manoeuvred by a six-axis robotic arm in geometric patterns layer by layer. The robot moves the plate as needed to build the specific geometries commanded by the STL (Standard Template Library) CAD file.
In this process the sheer kinetic energy of the particles hitting each other causes the powders to bind together to form a high-density part with metallurgical properties superior to a metal casting. Parts can safely be handled immediately after the build. The process allows metal parts to be printed 100 to 1000 times faster than existing 3D metal printing methods.
Fig.2 below shows the copper part that SPEE3D built in just 11 minutes(3).
SPEE3D continues to be an innovative supplier of metal-based additive manufacturing technology and focuses on the development, assembly and distribution of machines and integrated system solutions based on their patented cold-spray technology. SPEE3D’S innovative technology has contributed to faster, lower-cost and more scalable production than traditional metal printing techniques for copper and aluminium and allows application across several industries including marine, defence and aerospace (4).