The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the South Dakota School of Mines through a joint ownership agreement commercialized a system to reclaim unserviceable parts and reduce the amount of maintenance required by military and commercial sectors. VRC Metal Systems, a start-up company from SDSM, manufactures the cold spray system.
ARL's Victor Champagne and Dr. Dennis Helfritch, both with the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, invented the "Cold Spray Device and System," which is a novel approach to forming coatings or near net shaped parts through the supersonic acceleration and subsequent impact and consolidation of particles in a stream of gas (either air, nitrogen or helium) incorporating a small device that can be used by hand in a variety of operating environments.
The system can be manipulated manually and has a compact design allowing it to be used in remote areas of operation such as in an aircraft hangar, on an oil rig in the ocean, out in the middle of a dessert or other remote areas apart from the factory floor. This has allowed in-situ repair of corroded and worn metal parts such as, expensive aircraft parts, components on vehicles, munitions, ships, submarines and other applications.
Champagne developed the use of cold spray for repairing corroded and worn parts, which has significantly reduced the costs associated with the corrosion and damage caused during service of parts used in Army, Navy rotorcraft and Air Force fixed wing as well as all commercial aircraft.
The system has saved the DOD more than $100 million annually in sustainment costs and commercial savings are equal or even higher.
This system differs from conventional cold spray in that it is truly portable and it has been designed for manual operation or it can be used on a robot making it a "hybrid" system.
The Cold Spray System has revolutionized field repair of components and has had a profound effect on reducing sustainment costs in several important industry sectors including not only aerospace but automotive, petrochemical, electronics and the medical industry.