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Sat, Jan 24, 2004

Lawrence Livermore Labs: Let There Be Light

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.

FMI: www.llnl.gov

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