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Six New Orders Show Turbine Manufacturers Advances with Laser

Dec. 30, 2010
Prima North America technologies support growth, modernization in aircraft and power sectors
Laserdyne’s announced six new orders for its newest technology represents the direction of the aerospace and energy industries.
The Laserdyne 795 BeamDirector®3 is Prima North America’s latest multi-axis laser processing system.

Prima North America has orders for six of its Laserdyne systems from U.S. manufacturers of aircraft and power generation turbine components. Laserdyne is a series of multi-axis laser machining systems for drilling, cutting, and welding 3D parts using moving-beam motion system.

“The aerospace industry is committed to aircraft designs that are more fuel efficient, safer, quieter and have a more positive impact on the global environment,” according to Terry VanderWert, president of Prima North America.

Minnesota-based Prima North America is the North American subsidiary of Prima Industrie S.p.A., an Italian supplier of laser sheet metal fabrication systems. Its two operating units are Laserdyne Systems, which provides precision laser processing systems for turbine component manufacturing; and Convergent Lasers, which designs and manufactures multi-kW, fast axial flow CO2 lasers and high peak-power pulsed Nd:YAG lasers for drilling and cutting.

According to the company, the current series of orders involves a customer that manufacturers aircraft engines, which ordered two Laserdyne System 450s equipped with CL50k lasers, and another Tier One aircraft industry supplier that ordered a Laserdyne System 795 equipped with CL50k laser and third Laserdyne System 795 equipped with a fiber laser.

Still another order is from a Chinese aerospace industry customer that ordered a Laserdyne System 795 equipped with the CL50k laser.

“The new and upgraded engine designs are key to an airline’s profitable growth,” VanderWert explained. “Increasingly new designs and maintenance of current engine designs require manufacturing processes based on the latest, most advanced multi- axis laser technology. The result is that OEMs and Tier One aerospace suppliers are finding it necessary to invest in the best manufacturing systems available and that increasingly means Laserdyne laser system technology. The same forces are at work in MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) operations as well as in the manufacture of land based turbine engines.”

Prima North America’s sixth order is from a turbine engine component refurbishing operation that provides engine maintenance support to numerous turbine operators around the world. Turbine engines require ongoing maintenance, including refurbishing the thousands of cooling holes designed into every engine. Laserdyne’s proprietary, high-speed laser drilling laser system provides a fast and cost-effective method to achieve this.

“This particular order is noteworthy because it is a result of a mandate to create the most modern, cost effective operation for this type of work,” reported VanderWert. “A group of turbine-engine component engineers with international and multi-company backgrounds have been assembled to bring this vision to life. … With more high-value components being refurbished and put back into service, there is a growing need for innovative processes to keep maintenance costs low and extend time between overhaul. The Laserdyne 795 system provided the most cost-effective processes for refurbishing air flow holes in turbine engine components.”

The company president said each of the orders represents developments in the aerospace and energy industries.

Among the Laserdyne systems’ process advantages, the CL50k laser allows for high-speed hole drilling “on the fly,” which complements other exclusive features, including the patented Optical Focus Control (OFC), Breakthrough Detection (BTD), and CylPerf programming at normal, minor, shallow and compound angles. This combination of software and hardware has been critical to major turbine engine manufacturers’ ability to maintain ±2% airflow on new generation of components, whereas ±10% had been standard.

“Convergent Lasers’ CL50k laser,” VanderWert maintained, “was key to securing these orders because of the unique ability to systematically control hole size in both new and repaired parts, avoiding operator guesswork. At least one company has ordered a Laserdyne turnkey airflow bench and the exclusive Laserdyne FlowComp software. This customer will be producing parts to rigid flow requirements with direct control from the Laserdyne 795 system.”

In addition, Laserdyne customers are showing interest in research showing that a single-laser system used for ‘conventional’ cylindrical holes can be used for shaped-hole production. Shaped holes, when used in properly designed components, result in fewer holes being required to accomplish a superior result. Fewer holes means shorter production cycle times, lower production costs, and a lower cooling air requirement. In practice, this results in a more efficient and cost-effective engine thanks to Laserdyne shaped-hole technology.

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