Abstract Conventional (micron size) WC–12Co coatings were sprayed on stainless steel substrate with low power plasma spraying process. The plasma torch was designed such that the powder can be sprayed at low power plasma (3.9–9.1 kW) and internally injected by carrier gas in the region between the anode and cathode. The cermet powders were sprayed via this new technique at different plasma power (3.9–9.1 kW). The results show that, at low power (3.9 kW), the main structure of the coatings is composed of WC grains. However, beside WC, W 2C phase has been detected in coatings sprayed at high plasma power (5–9 kW). On the other hand, intensity of WC peak decreased and that of W 2C increased as the plasma power was increased. The influence of plasma power on the coatings hardness has been investigated. The results indicated that the coatings hardness increased and reached about 1500 HV at plasma power of 6.5 kW. Over this power value, the hardness of the coatings slightly decreased mainly due to the appearance of brittle α-W 2C grains.