Jülich Thermal Spray Center (JTSC)

A new research and innovation infrastructure of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Thermal spray is a fast growing coating technology with an annual growth rate of about 8% driven by the world-wide increasing demands in electricity production, air transport, automotive manufacturing, and other advanced technologies [The 2016 Thermal Spray Roadmap, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, 2016]. Especially high-end coating processes and materials solutions are of extreme interest for industrial applications.
Jülich Thermal Spray Center offers a unique infrastructure composed of thermal spray processes (for a total investment value well exceeding 5 million €) combined with unique expertise built up over many years. The current installation of new spray equipment at IEK-1 (Materials Synthesis and Processing) completes this suite of facilities which is unique both from a national and international perspective. The installed facilities cover the complete range of advanced process parameters as shown here:

Many energy conversion systems such as aero engines, flexible gas turbines, combustion engines, or concentrated solar power units have an extended demand for advanced high temperature coatings. Especially new solutions for both thermal and environmental barrier coatings are strongly needed and are of high industrial relevance. Several new projects with industrial partners are being launched, incorporating innovative concepts e.g. coating of additive manufactured parts or new surface treatments by laser ablation (both patented).
In addition, the development of refurbishment technologies by thermal spray is an emerging attractive field with several projects running. Knowledge and capacities in this field are also being geared towards additive manufacturing, which is within the thermal spray community a fast growing activity due to the advantages of thermal spray processes. Especially, the newly installed cold gas system will have a major impact within this topic.
An additional field of growth focus is the application of spray methods for applying functional coatings, as solid state battery cathodes by aerosol deposition, membranes on metallic supports by VLPPS or high temperature wear and corrosion resistant coatings for CSP applications.

Facilities of the center
Advanced vacuum plasma spraying unit (VPS)
This continuously up-graded unit can be operated in the conventional vacuum plasma spraying (VPS) mode e.g. for the deposition of dense, high purity metallic coatings, very low pressure plasma spraying (VLPPS) mode for the deposition of dense (i.e. gas tight !), crystalline ceramic coatings, and plasma spray physical vapor deposition (PS-PVD) mode for the evaporation of powder feedstock and deposition from the gas phase gaining unique high temperature capabilities with a non-line of sight capability.
In addition to the VPS chamber, 3 different spray facilities for spraying under atmospheric conditions are within the center which are all equipped with six axis robotic systems and tilt able turntables allowing the development of coating processes in an industry-like environment:

APS work horse with Triplex and HVOF technology
This spray facility allows the operation of standard atmospheric plasma spraying (APS) torches like F4, 9MB and internal coating gun F100 Connex. In addition, more advanced torches with high process stability as the TriplexPro-210 and the SinplexPro can be used for the deposition of various typically ceramic feedstocks. Furthermore, a high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) system (Diamond Jet) for the deposition of dense metallic and ceramic coatings is installed.

Axial injection APS and Kinetiks cold spray
Here the powerful APS Axial III torch with an axial injection system can be operated. This torch is ideal for suspension plasma spraying (SPS) allowing unique columnar structures, a major research topic of the present TBC development. Also a cold spray system (Kinetiks) can be operated here for the deposition of dense metallic coatings.

Kinetic spray deposition
This newest spray system is designated for the use of highly kinetic spray technology. A newest generation cold spray system (Impact 5/11) as well as a high velocity air fuel (HVAF) system is available which allows highest particle velocities for the deposition of mainly metallic coatings as well as repair and additive manufacturing processes.

Trumpf laser cladding unit
This unit allows the deposition of fine metallic structures (e.g. embedded sensors) and the surface structuring by ablation processes. In combination with thermal spray the last is a powerful and highly innovative tool to improve coating systems.

Aerosol deposition
In this chamber the aerosol deposition process for the deposition of highly dense ceramic layers at room temperature is installed.

For the characterization of the spray processes various tools are available:
- Particle diagnostics (DPV-2000, Accuraspray, PIV)
- Plasma diagnostics (Optical emission spectroscopy (OES), enthalpy probe)
- Characterization of stress state (In situ coating property (ICP) sensor, XRD)
In addition, a wide range of powder, suspensions and general materials characterization techniques are available at IEK-1 or Jülich campus.

External access to the facilities and cooperations
The center is oriented towards increasing the visibility and application of thermal spray technologies within the scientific community. While in the past already several cooperations e.g. with KIT on W/Steel graded coatings for fusion applications, protective coatings for CMC with DLR, wear resistant coatings with Fraunhofer IKTS or development of repair technologies with different industrial partners and Ruhr University Bochum took place, the center will now allow all interested institutions from Helmholtz and other research associations or from universities to launch proposals for initial/start-up research work. Short proposals (1 page) can be submitted at any time, after discussion with IEK-1 experts on the feasibility of the envisaged approach, a decision will be made within 3 months after submission. In case of a successful project the continuation of the research will be supported, especially additional funding schemes should be considered then.
In addition, a user group for regular exchange and evaluation of the projects will be established.
Form: Jülich Thermal Spray Center (JTSC) (PDF, 342 kB)

The facility is headed by Prof. R. Vaßen who received the highest international award in the field (Inductee in the Hall of Fame of Thermal Spray) and leads the department “Materials for Power Plants” at IEK-1. He is supported by experienced team leaders PD Dr. G. Mauer (a well-recognized thermal spray expert and editor of the Journal of Thermal Spray Technology) and Dr. D. E. Mack (a senior scientist in the development of ceramic coatings). The facilities are operated by a highly experienced staff (K.-H. Rauwald, R. Laufs, F. Kurze, M. Tandler) who guarantee a continuous development of know-how.

Last Modified: 18.04.2024