James A. Browning plans to revolutionize the process of metal coating -- with a pistol.

His company, Browning Engineering Corp. of Hanover, N.H., has recently started marketing the Jet Kote hypersonic spray system, whose central feature is a small hand-held gun. The gun sprays powdered metals and fuses them to metal surfaces in one step, without melting the surface being coated. The system propels the metal particles at supersonic speeds and prevents the particles from adhering to, and clogging, the gun nozzle.

Metallizing is commonly used to put a harder surface on a softer metal, or to make a metal surface corrosion-resistant. Present systems are bulky, slow, and expensive to operate, according to Browning. "For top-quality coating of tungsten carbide, the going rate for metallizing is $500 per pound of metal laid down," he says. "Our new system can do it for a fraction of the cost."

"Almost all metals can be flamesprayed with our Jet Kote gun," Browning adds, "so metal surfaces can be given just the right coating at any thickness desired, right down to less than 1/1,000 of an inch."