Electrically Conductive Coatings
A wide variety of materials can be engineered into thermal spray coatings to provide different degrees of electrical conductivity. Materials such as copper, aluminum, and molybdenum are the most commonly used. Materials such as iron-chrome-aluminum and molybdenum-disilicide are used for higher temperature applications. Some oxide ceramics are used as conductors and semi-conductors for specialized applications.
When engineering an electrically conductive coating Thermal Spray Technologies uses its strong expertise in materials engineering and its strength of understanding the processes of thermal spray. Operating temperatures, environmental medium, and life cycle requirements are just a few of the considerations for developing an effective solution for electrical conductivity. The combination of this knowledge provides application specific solutions to our customers' electrical design issues.
Electrical conductivity exists at some level in most materials and can be affected by temperature and environment. Metals, metal alloys, and some ceramics are useful conductors. Generally, electrically conductive coatings require low resistivity making aluminum, copper, and their alloys the best solutions. Where high temperatures are involved, materials that produce a protective, self-healing scale are more suitable. These materials include iron-chrome-aluminum, moly-disilicide, and others. Gradated coatings are often employed for high-temperature applications.
Electrically conductive thermal spray coatings can be applied to everything from polymers and composites to ceramics. Considerations for application include power levels and coating/substrate interactions under power and at temperature.
Conductive thermal spray coatings can and have been used to create heating elements, slip rings, static dissipative elements, ground straps, flexible circuits, in situ thermocouples, commutator segments, contact points for silicon carbide heating elements, and much more.