Sat, Jan 24, 2004
Laser Technology Expected to Produce Major Savings, Reduced
Maintenance for Commercial Aircraft Parts
There's more life in store for critical components for
commercial aircraft. That's the result of an advanced laser peening
technology developed by researchers from Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory and a New Jersey firm.
The payoff is already proving huge: turbine engine parts that
last longer, reduced maintenance costs, and annual savings of
hundreds of millions of dollars.
The breakthrough that provides these benefits is a powerful LLNL
laser and shock-generation technology used by Metal Improvement Co.
Inc. of Paramus (NJ) to treat the surface of metal parts.
"This is 21st century technology that will enable engineers to
design aircraft parts that are safer, lighter, perform better and
are more economical," said Lloyd Hackel, leader of LLNL's Laser
Science and Technology Program and initial developer of laser
peening at LLNL.
During the past 21 months, Rolls-Royce has used Metal
Improvement to laser peen critical fan blade components installed
in over 250 Rolls-Royce Trent 800/Trent 500 engines. Due to the
deeper compressive residual stress imparted by the laser peening
process, components are more resistant to fatigue stress, improving
the cost effectiveness of the operation of the component in terms
of increased life and reduced maintenance costs. Other applications
are under development for Rolls-Royce.
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