The Ames Laboratory Plasma Spray (ALPS) Facility uses Ames Laboratory's skill and expertise with materials to make new metal and ceramic coating to improved wear or corrosion resistance, thermal and electrical insulation, and oxidation protection. An initial ALPS Facility activity was to develop coatings for crucible liners, which are able to contain molten materials that are very reactive and have high melting temperatures. HVOF and Plasma spray guns and an atmospheric chamber are available.
Following the early development of numerous refractory crucible-liner-coating systems, the ALPS Facility has matured in a short time to tackle new challenges, which extend the traditional capabilities of plasma arc spraying. Examples of new materials and processes developed in the ALPS Facility as part of its research mission or in cooperation with industrial partners include:
- Quasicrystalline (AL-Cu-Fe) coatings for reduced friction, high hardness, oxidation resistance and low surface energy (General Motors, Deere & Co.);
- Plasma spheroidization of refractory powers to produce spherical, dense particles with specific phase contents and properties (Longyear Co.);
- Fabrication of monolithic and composite free-standing shapes, which cannot be formed by conventional techniques.
- Variable diameter ceramic tubes with an interior layer of a refractory metal have been produced to allow induction heating of the tube.