Grand opening of the new Thermal Spray workplace

On Wednesday 5 December, VZÚ Plzeň opened the technological workplace of the thermal sprays of European style and importance


On 5 December 2018, Výzkumný a zkušební ústav Plzeň s.r.o. (VZÚ Plzeň), a member of the ÚJV Group, launched operation of one of the most modern thermal spray centres in Europe. In particular, the dimensions and parameters of the installed technologies make the workplace unique in Europe. The customers from the aircraft industry, power engineering, or fine engineering will use unique material know-how based on 111 years of tradition in the applied R&D.

The new R&D centre follows up the unique knowledge and experience in the field of the thermal sprays and advanced surface treatments, in which VZÚ Plzeň has been engaging for more than 30 years. The installed technologies include three fully equipped spraying boxes that allow for application of the coat by cascade plasma, high-speed HVOF technology, and twin wire arc spray and flame spray. The coat may be applied to components up to 6m long, 1,4m rotary diameter, and weigh 6t. The R&D workplace is supported by in-house material, metallographic, and chemical laboratory.

“Owing to tight cooperation with industrial partners, unique knowledge and experience in the field of the material engineering, and this strategic investment, we will be able to propose, develop, and test brand new industrial applications of coat in the net R&D centre,” says Mr Stanislav Martínek, MBA, managing director or VZÚ Plzeň.

“The thermal spraying technologies fall into the group of additive technologies, and represents one of the promising direction of application of the coats from advanced materials, offering unique, otherwise unattainable combinations of surface properties of a final product, extension of lifecycle, reduction of financial costs, and substantial reduction of burden for environment,” says Mr Zdeněk Česánek, Ph.D., Project manager of the R&D centre.

The demand for new and outright surface properties of materials is growing worldwide. Also the pressure on improvement of lifecycle, efficient operation, and environmental footprint of the final products across the industries increases. All the trends directly invite to use just the technologies of thermal spraying.

The thermal sprays find their application across a wide range of areas. In power engineering, they serve e.g. for turbine shafts and packing boxes, protection of weld joints, or coat of the bearing shells; in medicine, they may be applied as the final layer of joint replacements. The applications are highly demanded in the aircraft industry – e.g. application of flue components for aircraft engines – TBC (Thermal Barrier Coating), or coating of extremely stressed components of aircraft chassis. They may be employed also in engineering production or for coating of rolls for paper and printing industry.

The new Thermal Spray Centre was developed in the Karlov industrial zone, Borská pole in Plzeň. Total investments amounted almost to CZK 60 million. In addition to the construction works and revitalization of the area of original brownfield, the investment mainly focused on procurement of new technologies – apparatus for air plasma spraying. In addition to spraying of metals, carbides, cements, and alloys under melted condition, the company hereby becomes competent in coating of melted ceramic materials on machineries. The investment was supported from the operational programme Innovations and Competitiveness – Potential funded by the European Union.

Výzkumný a zkušební ústav Plzeň s.r.o. (former Škoda Výzkum) deals with the applied industrial R&D and certified testing, and operates in particular in the power engineering and transport industry sectors. The company is a member of ÚJV Group.