ITSA History

The history of the ITSA (International Thermal Spray Association) is closely interwoven with the history of thermal spray development in this hemisphere. Founded in 1948, and once known as Metallizing Service Contractors (MSC), the ITSA Group has been closely tied to almost all major advances in technology, equipment and materials, industry events, education, standards and market development in North and South America.

Original Board of Directors 1948
Original Board of Directors 1948

In a move which reflects an expanded global mission, as well as one which reflects the present scope of thermal spray technology, Metallizing Services Contractors voted to become International Thermal Spray Association in October of 1991. Under its new charter, ITSA will build on a history of active industry involvement to promote thermal spray technology worldwide.

Early beginnings

The metal spraying industry has its beginnings early in the 20th century when Dr. M.U. Schoop of Zurich, Switzerland, developed the first process for spraying metal and, subsequently, the first equipment to spray metal in wire form. The early commercial applications for the “Schoop Process”or “metallizing” took place in Germany, and later in France. Schoop subsequently sold his rights to a German firm known as Metallizator. It was this firm that made and sold spray units in Europe, England and the United States beginning in the early 1920″s. Among the early U.S. companies to adopt the technology were Metal Coatings Company and Metalweld of Philadelphia and Metallizing Company of Los Angeles. Early applications included the coating of railroad tank cars, U.S. Navy ship tanks, coal barges and the spraying of the emergency gates for the Panama Canal.

Applications for industrial plants accelerated during the “Great Depression,” and during this decade the greatest push for what was then known as “flame spraying” occurred. Four entrepreneurs – Larry Kunkler, Rea Axline, Charles Boyden, Sr. and Charles Stipp from the Metallizing Company of America – were largely responsible for pushing metallizing into the American industrial scene. In 1932, Rea Axline (a subsequent founder of Metco) exhibited his company’s “Three-in-one Metallizing Unit” at a meeting of the Galvanizer’s Institute at the Hotel Statler in St. Louis.

Sixteen years later, the American Metallizing Contractors Association, the predecessor of International Thermal Spray Association (ITSA), was founded in the same hotel. The meeting was arranged by Walter B. Meyer of St. Louis Metallizing Company and William H Fatka of Metallizing, Inc. of Chicago. Soon they were publishing a newsletter, AMCA News, to share new thermal spray technology information and identify new market opportunities for members.

With the advent of World War II, the American thermal spray industry went into high gear with the members of the association playing a key role in providing the “metallizing” desperately needed for replacement parts for industrial equipment. Walter Meyer and Tom Lufkin of Tranter Manufacturing Company worked with the Army in the China-Burma-India theater; Knowles Smith of Dix Engineering Company worked with the Navy. By the end of the war, “metallizing” was firmly established as a major industrial process. Applications included large elevated water tanks, tuna fishing boats, chemical industry tanks and tank cars, capacitor castings and pipe.

In response to an increasingly sophisticated market, ITSA drew up industry specifications for the application of corrosion-resistant coatings and spelled out the methods of inspection. These specifications were distributed to engineering firms, designers, and educational institutions throughout the world and resulted in increased business opportunities for the entire metallizing industry. The advent of fusible alloys, flame spraying of ceramics and plasma spraying were soon to follow.

In 1976, the association co-sponsored, with the American Welding Society (AWS), the first International National Thermal Spray Conference held in the United States. The event took place in September 1976 in Miami Beach, Florida. Accounts described the event (which drew 515 people from 28 countries) “as the most successful international conference to date.” Eight ITSA members presented technical papers at the event, receiving international recognition for their “contributions to the world body of technical knowledge.” This event paved the way for ITSA sponsorship of the National Thermal Spray Conference.

ITSA members were also important contributing authors and researchers for the AWS manual, Thermal Spraying – Practice and Theory Application. Published in 1985, this was the first definitive work on thermal spray produced in the United States.

Today, as an organization, ITSA is working to raise the level of awareness of general industry and government on the advanced capabilities of thermal spray technology and the vitally important problems it can solve. Thermal spray applications have moved from a traditional base in aviation to encompass ground-based turbines, automotive, biomedical electronics, highway infrastructure and virtually every industry.

ITSA’s mission is to add value to its membership in terms of prestige, business opportunities, technical support, social networking, and to make contributions to the industry as a whole. The association charter calls for thermal spray growth through the ITSA scholarship program, by working cooperatively with the industry in the writing of universal standards and specifications, through the development and exchange of technical information, through advertising and industry participation and by promoting a code of business ethics which instills confidence and satisfaction among consumers of thermal spray coatings.

International Thermal Spray Association Announces Alliance With American Welding Society

Fairport Harbor, OH, November 30, 2011 – The International Thermal Spray Association (ITSA) announced today that it has become a standing committee within the American Welding Society (AWS). The alliance allows for ITSA to retain its respective brand and organizational independence while simultaneously benefiting from AWS’s size and resources.

Founded in 1948 as Metallizing Service Contractors and renamed International Thermal Spray Association in 1991, ITSA is a professional trade association of Companies dedicated to expanding the use of thermal spray technologies for the benefit of industry and society. The Association has been closely tied to major advances in thermal spray technology, equipment and materials, industry events, education, standards and market development in North and South America as well as Australia and parts of the Pacific Rim and Europe.

“ITSA has worked very closely with AWS in the past several years and it’s really served to increase visibility of thermal spray technology,” said David Wright, Chairman of ITSA. “The alliance with AWS allows ITSA the infrastructure to ensure that it can continue into the future as a solid, member-driven organization while placing more emphasis on promoting engineered surface coatings to Industry.”

“We welcome this new alliance with ITSA,” said Ray Shook, AWS Executive Director. “Thermal spraying is a key element in the core welding technologies covered by AWS, so the link is a natural one that should offer strong value to members of both AWS and ITSA.”

Under the new alliance all ITSA member companies are now supporting members of AWS. As a supporting member, each ITSA member company will be given five individual AWS memberships as well as members’ discounts to AWS publications.

Two other organizations similar in size to ITSA currently serve as AWS Standing Committees: The Resistance Welding Manufacturing Alliance (RWMA) and the Welding Equipment Manufacturers’ Committee (WEMCO).

About AWS

The American Welding Society (AWS) was founded in 1919 as a multifaceted, nonprofit organization with a mission to advance the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting process worldwide, including brazing, soldering, and thermal spraying. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, and led by a volunteer organization of officers and directors, AWS serves over 72,000 members worldwide and is composed of 22 Districts with 250 Sections and student chapters.