Spotlight: Quality improvements - tools and surface treatments

23 Sep 2013

Rachel Lawler looks at developments in engineering tools and surface treatments for a range of applications.

The outcome of a project, whether successful or not, is often decided in the planning stages. A range of improvements in planning tools and pre-treatments for components and engines is helping engineers give all their projects the best chance of succeeding.

Infrastructure engineers looking to improve accuracy in project plans can benefit from Earthmine – a 3D mapping tool from Atkins Global. The UK company has created an imaging system that gives users real-world measurements between any two points. The system has been trialled on stretches of the M25 and M11, and provides street-view imagery at a relatively low cost. Users can measure XYZ points from every pixel, allowing projects to be planned in greater detail. The system can be accessed through a flash application or a smartphone and can be integrated with existing software, including AutoCAD Map3D. The tool will be particularly useful for engineers looking to improve existing infrastructure.

DuPont has launched two new high-performance products for aerospace applications. Kalrez Aeroseal perfluoroelastomer is designed to minimise the corrosion of titanium and stainless steel, and can be used as an oil seal in turbine and jet engines. The parts can effectively replace metallic materials and offer high temperature capability, wear resistance and low friction. The parts can also be used in air delivery systems and could extend component life-spans.  

DuPont’s second innovation, Vespel ASB-0670 parts, can be used on fan blade wear strips and provide longer wear life compared to incumbent coatings. The components can provide improved wear resistance at high temperatures compared to other polyimides and are capable of replacing metallic components. This also reduces the weight of the parts, which has the knock-on effect of reducing fuel consumption.

Aerospace components have also seen improvements from UK company The Wallwork Group. The company has launched Nitron Flight – a group of multi-layer coatings based on titanium, chromium, chromium/aluminium and carbon/metal carbide. These coatings can be used for landing gear, engine bearings, compressor sections and high-temperature engine seals. One of these products, Nitron O, can be used to improve the finish of titanium components and allow them to withstand higher loads while remaining lubricated.

A fine silver metal spray has been used by Metallisation to improve the performance of generator motors for RFI Screening Limited, a surface treatment specialist based in the UK. After grit blasting and preheating the generator rotor to prepare and clean the shaft, the thermal spray manufacturer sprayed a 25μm coating of molybdenum before applying 250μm of silver on top. This process will maximise the generator’s lifetime and reduce downtime caused by breakdown and maintenance.