Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services (AMES) has received FAA approval for cold-spray repairs following a three-year public-private collaboration project to make the repair technique for structural applications a reality. Cold-spray repair will now be added to AMES’ repair-station capability list.
The project, which was funded by the State of Ohio, targeted FAA approval for cold-spray repair of corroded and worn parts on commercial aircraft. Research and development was conducted in partnership with the University of Akron’s National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance, SAFE Inc. and U.S. Technology Corp.
“This groundbreaking approval is the first step in making the cold spray process commercially available for use in aircraft repairs and it opens opportunities to seek approval for repairs of aircraft parts that are not currently repairable,” says Greg Smith, director of engineering, manufacturing and repair at AMES. “Developing these emerging technologies is one of the values that we are providing our customers to meet their requirements in cost savings and reducing overall operational waste.”
In July, Smith told Inside MRO that the next step after obtaining FAA approval would be taking cold-spray repair into primary aircraft structures, which will likely be more attractive to the industry as those are generally more expensive to repair. Smith says AMES is working on a plan for this with the University of Akron and its other engineering partners, but it has not implemented anything yet.
Cold-spray repairs entail accelerating metal particles toward a solid surface at supersonic speeds within a jet of expanded gas. The energy generated enables particles to bond with the surface at lower temperatures than other thermal-spray and welding processes, which are prone to distortion and stresses.