CCAM researchers solve current and complex manufacturing challenges in collaboration with their members in the following four research focus areas:

Surface Engineering

A sub-discipline of materials science dealing with the surface of solid matter

CCAM’s Surface Engineering team utilizes the latest technology and analytical tools to develop an adaptive, model-based control of the thermal spray process. We work on the entire lifecycle of surface engineering projects to achieve production gains in cost, speed and quality, starting with the investigation of new technologies, through process development, to the realization of a fully mature surface engineering process.


advanced process control | automated abrasive blasting | coating development | machining of thermal spray coatings |
plasma spray | robotic programming | sensor development | improved surface characterization


laser ablation | plasma spray cell | surface preparation

Surface Engineering at Work


The CCAM Surface Engineering group executes research projects with the consistent goal of improving manufacturing processes at our member companies.


Technology levels:  Our projects range from the investigation of new technologies, through process development, all the way to realizing cost/quality/speed improvements in fully mature processes.

Research approach:  The team leverages in-house knowledge, expertise at our member companies and university researchers, process monitoring technologies, analytical tools, and advances in information technologies to develop practical solutions.

Project scopes:  CCAM members fund research ranging from a day of experimentation to multiple year efforts focused on transitioning surface engineering technologies to adaptively-controlled, robust manufacturing technologies.


Since 2013, 57 total projects: $5.5M in Directed Research; $2.5M in Core Research (~$2.6M in 2017)

Majority of Directed Research projects focused on plasma spray; advanced process control, sensor development, robotic programming, coating development

Sample of other Directed Research projects:

  • Installation of high temperature test facility
  • Automated surface inspection for sub-micron finishes
  • Injection mold die coating – factory implemented
  • Laser ablation of unique material

Sample of Core Research projects:

  • Automated abrasive blasting
  • Machining of thermal spray coatings
  • Improved surface characterization: Roughness and contamination

Surface Engineering Capabilities


  • Oerlikon Metco thermal spray booth
    • Range of plasma spray guns (8 guns)
    • Extensive diagnostic and monitoring equipment
    • Fully integrated IT system
  • Surface modification equipment
    • GF 5-axis laser ablation machine
    • Robotic, manual cabinet, and walk-in grit blasting
  • Custom, dual robot, laser cladding booth
  • Fully capable metallographic laboratory
  • Access to researchers and equipment from 5 Virginia research universities
  • Key advantage: Collaborative projects between material/equipment manufacturers, coating suppliers, and engine builders


Contact the CCAM Team today: | (804) 722-3700

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