The history of cold spray
Today we’ll be discussing cold spray, one of the best-selling products in our range known as ice spray. Do you know who invented it and when? How was it used before it reached the medical sector? We will examine it together thanks to the support of an interesting article published on coldspray.com.
Today we’ll be discussing cold spray, one of the best-selling products in our range known as ice spray.
Do you know who invented it and when? How was it used before reaching the medical sector? We will examine it together thanks to the support of an interesting article published on coldspray.com.
Did you know that cold spray is an invention attributed to the Soviets? A team from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberia Division, during the 1980s, had the idea of condensing a cold spray into a can. In particular, the invention is attributed to Anatolii Papyrin and other scientists on his team (Kosarev, Klinkov, Fomin, etc.).
Before the Russians, several American scientists had come very close to discovering the process of a cold spray. However, the ideas appeared similar but never the same as those later developed by the Russians who, for their part, had better technology and different know-how at their disposal.
Penicillin, safety glass, X-rays, and Teflon have one thing in common: they were all accidental discoveries. The same destiny was reserved for cold spray, an accidental yet extremely important discovery. But how did all this happen?
The Siberian research team was observing the behaviour of certain metal particles in flows around solid objects. In exceptional situations such as blizzards (where air is the gas, the snow crystals are the solid) or a sandstorm, the particles change their state: if the velocity of the gas accelerates vortically, the particles become a kind of solid coating, attaching themselves to each other. Much to their surprise, the researchers achieved this effect precisely. They immediately recognised the potential of the discovery and its application in various fields and perfected their studies, officially patenting them in 1991 in the Soviet Union.
News began to spread in the scientific community all over the world and a team of American scientists travelled to Russia to see the invention, taking away with them video evidence that was very valuable for future uses of cold spray.
In 1993, the Ford Motor Company invited Anatolii Papyrin to show his discoveries. Papyrin also had the opportunity to speak at the US National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in 1994; then he decided to stay in the US, accepting a professorship at Pennsylvania State University.
In short, the 1990s were the decisive decade for cold spray technology. As scientists around the world continued to improve it, some significant events took place. First of all, the Soviet Union was dismantled and the Russian economy collapsed. It was a dark moment for the nation, when there was a true ‘brain drain’ - including some of the members of the team that had discovered cold spray.
On the other side of the world, Sandia National Labs began an in-depth study on cold spray headed - once more - by Papyrin. The research went so well that Sandia used similar systems for a metal inserted in a satellite launched into space afterwards. Germany also took an interest in the subject, founding Cold Gas Technology (CGT) in 2002.
More recently, the technology and possibilities of growth for cold spray have also been explored by the U.S. Department of Defence, which, after entrusting the research to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, has officially:
- used the same technology for some repair work done on the UH-60 ‘Black Hawk’ helicopter;
- issued the military specification MIL-STD-3012, for the use of cold spray in defence applications (2008).
In addition to being used in the medical industry, cold spray is commonly used in the following areas:
- Repairing cladding panels for the United States Air Force aircraft;
- Maintenance on various components in the aerospace, nuclear, oil and gas, and general manufacturing industries;
- Preventing corrosion of materials on ships and submarines, aircraft, helicopters, missile systems, mining and industrial equipment, power plants, etc.
The demand for producing cold spray is continuously on the upswing. Together with the increase in demand, the need to create products that are sustainable and help the environment is also growing. Cold sprays do not produce toxic fumes; the ice particles that are deposited on surfaces can be improved in composition. In short, technology is improving day by day and the objective is to have zero impact on the environment.
A discovery made ‘by accident’ such as cold spray has become a true revolution for all industries. We are certain that new, innovative ways to use it will be found.
Did you know how cold spray originated? Did you know that it can be applied to many industries, in addition to the medical field? Let us know what you think; contact Dispotech.