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Intelligent manufacturing solutions halve production time of gas turbine components

Metrology software products Ltd (MSP) and Renishaw have joined forces to provide a vital solution for Doncasters Precision Castings – Deritend.

The company is a leading manufacturer of investment cast and machined industrial gas turbine airfoils that are manufactured in nickel and cobalt based superalloys. Doncasters is committed to growth and backs this commitment with a willingness to invest in continuous improvement through lean manufacturing and rapid prototyping.

Challenge

The first challenge was to improve right first-time machining rates of industrial gas turbine airfoils and nozzles and, in doing so, eliminate potential for errors to arise, as well as increasing overall productivity. Another challenge was to eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming hard fixturing and reduce set-up time. Furthermore, due to production targets, there was still a need to contract out some secondary operations. By improving productivity, the aim was to bring these operations in-house.

Solution

The Renishaw applications engineer recognised that MSP’s NC-PerfectPart and NC-Checker software combined with a Renishaw RMP600 probe would provide the best overall solution for Doncasters’ requirements. This combination of hardware and software allows users to identify errors in part positioning and a machine’s geometric performance prior to a part being cut. NC-Checker checks the performance of the probe prior to carrying out five-axis checks of the machine tool. This ensures that every aspect of probing and machining performance is within set tolerances prior to part set-up and metal cutting. NC-PerfectPart solves the problems created by poor part alignment on the machine tool. Set-up is automated, meaning that fixturing is no longer as critical in the process, manual set-up error is eliminated and the time required to set even the most complex of components is reduced to minutes.

Results

Before this solution, it took four hours to set and machine a typical industrial gas turbine nozzle. Now that same part can be probed, machined and checked in under two hours, increasing productivity by 100 per cent. With complex components, the machining time could be up to eight hours and require the presence of a highly skilled operator to oversee the process. These parts are now produced in the same two-hour cycle as simple parts, generating even greater savings.

“Our customers are giving us positive feedback as we have greatly improved our right-first-time pass rate. I genuinely feel that we would not be successfully machining castings without the help of Renishaw and MSP. The support we get from them is great; they are at the end of the phone if we call, and on-site when we need them,” said Ollie Macrow, engineering manager?Doncasters Precision Castings – Deritend.

Metrology software products Ltd (MSP) is committed to the research, development and installation of world-class precision software and part manufacturing solutions. The company is based in Alnwick, Northumberland (UK) and is an associate company of global metrology to medical solutions group, Renishaw PLC. MSP is founded on decades of metrology, calibration and machining experience and uses innovative techniques to develop error-free production environments for manufacturers.  www.metsoftpro.com