Ph.D. Defense: Nicholas Trail

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 10:00am
    Meinel 447

    "Imaging Profilometry for In Situ Measurement of Plasma Spray Coating Thickness"


    Thermal barrier coatings, and plasma spray coatings in general, require critical control over the deposited thickness to achieve reliable coating performance. Currently, the plasma spray industry quantifies thickness by sampling the part before and after TBC deposition. Approximate thickness is thus inferred from previous runs. However, process variability can allow errors to propagate in this result that leads to wasted time and resources, and can ultimately lead to unreliable coatings. To this end, an in situ optical fringe profilometer is developed that enables coating thickness measurements across a two-dimensional surface. The initial profilometer concept is explored through requirements and trade studies, leading to a hardware and algorithm design family and prototype build to capture and compare real-world data to simulation and model predictions. This initial result shows a viable path forward and the ability to achieve micrometer-scale depth resolution.

    Modifications and alterations to the in situ profilometer are then explored to improve the performance limits achievable. In specific, industrial spray coatings operate by dropping fine-grain media into a high-pressure gas line aimed through a plasma torch to impart enough thermal and kinetic energy to stick to the part surface. This presents a challenging operational environment for an optical depth measurement sensor, working with a variable high-temperature blackbody stray light source, constant part rotation and plasma gun movement, and a nonisolated vibration environment. As such, the concept of the profilometer is further adapted specific to this end-purpose, by developing and reviewing both dual-fringe projection and plenoptic imaging. These techniques allow an improvement to both the system micro- and macroscopic depth retrieval limits, allowing a method to solve for an extended range of phase ambiguities and relax object focus requirements (respectively). The end result is a system concept and algorithm design that presents a feasible manner for automated in situ geometry and depth measurements in the plasma spray industry. The in situ fringe profilometer work described herein allows a flexible path to recover object depth information remotely, and is especially relevant for asymmetric and complex nonplanar geometries, which are experiencing renewed interest with additive manufacturing processes and are generally quite common to the thermal spray industry.