Coatings are pivotal in combating problems of premature component degradation in aggressive industrial environments and constitute a strategic area for continued development. Thermal spray (TS) coatings offer distinct advantages by combining versatility, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to coat complex geometries without constraints of other in-chamber processes. Consequently, TS techniques like high-velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF) and atmospheric plasma spray (APS) are industrially well-accepted. However, they have reached limits of their capabilities while expectations from coatings progressively increase in pursuit of enhanced efficiency and productivity. Two emerging TS variants, namely high-velocity air-fuel (HVAF) and liquid feedstock thermal spraying, offer attractive pathways to realize high-performance surfaces superior to those hitherto achievable. Supersonic HVAF spraying provides highly adherent coatings with negligible porosity and its low processing temperature also ensures insignificant thermal ‘damage’ (oxidation, decarburization, etc.) to the starting material. On the other hand, liquid feedstock derived TS coatings, deposited using suspensions of fine particles (100 nm–5 µm) or solution precursors, permits the production of coatings with novel microstructures and diverse application-specific architectures. The possibility of hybrid processing, combining liquid and powder feedstock, provides further opportunities to fine tune the properties of functional surfaces. These new approaches are discussed along with some illustrative examples.
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