Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Repairing turbines with the help of robots

Date:
June 13, 2013
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Compressor and turbine blades are important components in aircraft engines and gas turbines. When they become damaged, it is often cheaper to repair them than to buy replacements. Now there is a new robotassisted technique that is boosting efficiency.

A robot automatically restores the damaged sections of a turbine blade at a grinding station.
Credit: © Fraunhofer IWF TU Berlin

Compressor and turbine blades are important components in aircraft engines and gas turbines. When they become damaged, it is often cheaper to repair them than to buy replacements. Now there is a new robotassisted technique that is boosting efficiency.

The German turbomachinery sector is booming. Over the past 25 years, it has doubled its share of the global market from 15 to 30 percent. For manufacturers, the service business -- i.e. maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) -- is steadily growing in importance. The blades in compressors and turbines are subject to particularly high levels of stress and strain. The job of the blades is to convert fluid energy into mechanical energy. They ensure that aircraft engines generate the required thrust and that power plant generators produce sufficient electricity.

"Damage to the blades of aircraft turbines is caused by wear from vibration and friction, for example, or by erosion from particles of sand and dust. Other triggers are hard landings, when individual engine components come into contact with each other, and large objects striking the engine," explains Martin Bilz, head of manufacturing technologies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK in Berlin. In such cases, the geometrically complex components, which are mostly made of titanium- or nickel-alloy steels, bend or crack and the flow of air is no longer optimal. This can cause engine performance to drop and fuel consumption to rise.

Time-consuming manual labor

Repairing the damaged components makes sound financial sense. Depending on the stage and engine size, a single turbine blade can cost several thousand euros. With an airplane needing up to 80 blades, the costs stack up very quickly for aircraft operators. Repair, however, is over 50% cheaper. The drawback with repair is that the processes involved are very complicated and elaborate. The individual work steps cannot be easily integrated into largely automated series manufacturing. Specialists process the workpieces by hand or with specially adapted machine tools. Depending on its size, it can take anything from a few hours to several days before a single blade is repaired. Or to give another example: on account of the strict quality assurance requirements in the aviation industry, it can often take two to three weeks before an individual rotating engine component can return to action.

Within the Fraunhofer MRO innovation cluster, Fraunhofer IPK and the Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management IWF of the Technische Universitδt Berlin set themselves the goal of developing an automated, robot assisted technique. "Whereas machine tools remain consistently expensive, robots are getting cheaper all the time, and now they can even be used for machining tasks," says Bilz, explaining the institutes' approach. Lending the researchers support were specialists from turbomachinery manufacturers such as MAN, MTU, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens. Together with further partners from business and research, the IPK not only managed to make individual process steps suitable for automation, they also developed a technique whereby a robot passes through several repair stations inside a single production cell. What is special about this technique is that the robot holds on to the component at all times and moves around to the individual stations in turn, which are arranged around it in an area of about 15 square meters. It cleans the component, measures its geometry, locates the faults, and carries out machining repairs.

"Not only is the robot assisted production cell a good example of a resource conserving and energy-efficient MRO process, it has also opened up new prospects for the manufacture of turbomachine components. For example, it makes the repair of compressor blades faster, cheaper, and more precise. Now we want to see the technology quickly taken up in manufacturing plants ," explains Bilz. IPK scientists will be exhibiting the technique at the International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, Paris from June 17 to 23, 2013.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Repairing turbines with the help of robots." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613104133.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2013, June 13). Repairing turbines with the help of robots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613104133.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Repairing turbines with the help of robots." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130613104133.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — Google has announced a Sept. 15 event in India during which they're expected to reveal their Android One phones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins