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Cold spray is a technology to restore in-service wear/corrosion damage on high-value aluminium, magnesium and titanium aerospace parts that are unrepairable by other means. Repair has technical, cost and environmental benefits, but the UK is lagging behind in adopting the technology. In the US and Australia over 200 military aircraft repairs have been developed and hundreds of individual commercial aviation repairs approved, saving taxpayers and the aviation industry at least $100m so far. Existing repairs are dimensional, but load-bearing repairs are now also being developed. This requires special heat treated metal powders, because in cold spray, powder impacts a surface at supersonic speeds and bonds to it via a mechanism similar to explosion welding. There is no melting, so the powder structure is transferred directly to the coating. Research into these powders has recently started in the USA and many technical challenges remain. The powders must be further developed and proven, and a reliable commercial supply established. In this project, the UK has the chance to establish a global lead in engineered powders for cold spray. With InnovateUK investment PSI Ltd. (an SME) will take advantage of its 30 years' experience in powders to position itself as a global supplier of advanced thermally treated powders. To this end, PSI is partnering with BAE Systems and TWI. TWI owns the only independent state-of-the-art cold spray research facility in Europe, and has been active in cold spray since 2006. BAE Systems estimate the project outcomes could save the UK taxpayer >£100m pa after 8 years. SME project partner Alphatek Hyperformance Coatings Ltd is considering investing in cold spray, with a view to adding to their existing business portfolio for existing and new clients.
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