March 4, 2009
Originally Published MPMN March 2009
Flame-Spray Unit Applies PEEK Coatings
The PG-550 universal flame-spray system can apply high-performance Vicote coatings to metal substrates.
In response to customer demand, high-performance polymer supplier Victrex plc has partnered with flame-spray specialist Alamo Supply Company, Ltd., to develop a system that can apply its PEEK-based coatings onto a variety of thermally sensitive materials. The flame-spray system enables the application of Vicote coatings to substrates typically sensitive to high PEEK processing temperatures, including aluminum, copper, and their associated alloys.
Suitable for use on medical device components, Vicote coatings resist wear, abrasion, erosion, scratching, and corrosion. They also feature good dielectric strength and can withstand repeated sterilization cycles. Using such traditional methods as electrostatic power, the PEEK-based coatings can be applied to some material surfaces—including carbon, stainless and cast steels, and titanium—as long as the substrate can withstand exposure to the coatings’ 750ºF processing temperature.
But many substrates can’t take the heat. By reducing the exposure time of the substrate to such high temperatures, the PG-550 universal flame-spray system allows for high-performance coatings to be applied to products made of materials that would be difficult or costly to coat by other means.
Flame-spray technology has previously been limited to handling some low-performance polymer, metal alloy, and composite ceramic-metal coatings, which are processed at lower temperatures than the PEEK-based coatings. “Performance limitations of metal and ceramic coatings have been tolerated due to the lack of an application technology suitable for applying high-performance polymer coatings via flame spraying,” explains Andrew Storm, Victrex global ventures business leader.
Using the system, manufacturers that want or need to use the flame-spray method on their products can now incorporate high-performance polymer coatings into their designs. Easy to use and set up, the system employs a gun nozzle to spray the polymer to produce an even coating. As it passes through the gun, the Vicote powder is heated to a temperature at which it melts and can then be applied at a high velocity to the surface of the product. Distributed in what the company describes as “splats,” the coating is sprayed from the gun as it passes back and forth across the product to form the durable coating.
The PG-550 enables OEMs to reap the benefits of enhancing a product with the performance characteristics of Vicote coatings while employing the cost-effective flame-spray method. “The cost of the combustion and conveying gas is potentially less expensive than traditional coating application methods,” Storm notes. Thus, flame spraying has the potential to be a more energy-efficient way of coating large and complex parts.
Victrex plc, West Conshocken, PA
Alamo Supply Company, Ltd., Houston
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