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Starrag and Walter showcase turbine technologies

The efforts of the Starrag Group and Walter AG continue to produce ground breaking results in terms of advances in machining, as visitors to the recent Starrag Turbine Technology Days saw for themselves.

Concentrating on the production of turbine blades used in aerospace and energy engines, a comprehensive series of live machining demonstrations on a range of Starrag machining centres showcased a host of benefits.

In one case involving the machining of a compressor disc, by eliminating the traditional initial broaching operation and using only milling tools, the part could be produced four times faster and with a surface finish of Ra 0.19 micron. Another example showed how the use of ceramic tooling can help cut production times of Inconel 718 blisks from the conventional 35/40 hours down to just 10 hours.

The demonstrations not only highlighted the effectiveness of Starrag machining centres, but they also showed how Walter is increasingly working with the machine specialist to develop special-purpose tooling solutions that effectively push the productivity boundaries even further. The result is clearly an emphasis on providing best-in-class production solutions to customers' processes.

Attended by almost 200 delegates from 80 or so aerospace OEMs and first tier suppliers from across the world – including as far afield as Korea and China – the two-day programme addressed every machining demand that visitors face, and presented opportunities for everyone involved in aerospace and energy machining to generate substantial savings and therefore rewards.

That such rises in machining efficiency and effectiveness has an obviously profitable future was highlighted by the event's keynote speaker, Yang Hong, vice general manager of AVIC International Aero Development Corporation of China. In his presentation on 'Trends and the future of equipment import to the Chinese aviation industry', Mr Hong stated that China will spend 300 billion US dollars on civil aircraft alone over the next ten years.

Adding that the nation's investment levels in production equipment look set to continue to rise, he also pointed out that China is equally enthused about the potential for its aircraft OEMs and suppliers to utilise more fully the machine tools they already have in place – including by applying automation.

So, the eye-opening demonstrations at the Turbine Technology Days couldn't have been more appropriate, including those on the Starrag LX051 with robot load/unload and the bar-fed Starrag LX021 that was producing small blades in a single set-up.

Interestingly, Starrag Group company, TTL, also demonstrated its adaptive machining software, in this case for aerofoil repairs. TTL software can machine and blend complex 3D components and features automatically, where geometrical differences exist between one component and the next.

The software is an effective replacement for what is traditionally a labour-intensive/manual process and, in addition to being consistent all day, every day, the use of the software also produces time savings of at least 30 per cent on each blade.

Press release issued by Starrag UK on August 5, 2015


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