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How to Quickly, Easily and Automatically Measure Radii and Defects

How to Quickly, Easily and Automatically Measure Radii and Defects

How to Quickly, Easily and Automatically Measure Radii and Defects

Highly specialised aerospace engine components such as turbine blades and discs or blisks involve a number of metrological challenges. Here’s how MTU Aero Engines are addressing them all. Article by Bruker Alicona.

The automatic measurement and evaluation of radii, chamfers and break edge on turbine engine components is one of many criteria in modern quality assurance at MTU Aero Engines. Currently three Cobot systems from Bruker Alicona are in use for break edge measurement. On top, the optical measuring solutions replace labor intensive replica techniques and tactile methods in defect measurement.

“If there’s a burr, this could become a danger point in the engine,” says Michael Duffek, inspection planner at MTU Aero Engines, and also responsible for quality assurance of turbine engine components. For the company, automated measurement and evaluation of edges, radii and chamfers of engine components is an important part of modern, state-of-the-art measurement technology.

Highly specialized components such as turbine blades, turbine discs or blisks (blade integrated disk) are measured, and they involve a number of metrological challenges. These include, for example, the complex geometry with steep flanks as well as varying reflection properties of the components. Different surface reflections occur due to varying manufacturing processes, as surfaces to be measured are either coated, and thus matt, or ground, and thus highly reflective.

For a suitable measuring system, this means that it must not only offer the required automation options including standard-compliant evaluation, but must also be able to measure complex, difficult-to-access geometries with tight tolerances and matt to reflective surfaces in high resolution and repeatability. A further requirement is the integration into a production process including integration into the existing IT environment.

“And the whole thing has to be fast and straightforward,” Duffek says. As a result, there are now 15 Bruker Alicona measurement systems in use at MTU locations worldwide, 11 of which are located at the test centers of the German headquarters in Munich. This is also where the automated measurement of turbine engine components takes place, which are implemented with measuring equipment from the Bruker Alicona Cobot line.

Combine an Optical 3D Sensor with a Collaborative Robot

Cobots are a combination of a collaborative 6-axis robot and a high-resolution optical 3D measurement sensor to be used for the automatic inspection of microgeometries on large components. In the aerospace industry, the measurement of deburred edges, also known as “break edge measurement”, on turbine disks and turbine housings are the most common applications. Bruker Alicona Cobots have been available on the market since 2017, and even then “nothing comparable has existed, at least we are not aware of any system. What the Cobot already offered three years ago at the market launch was unique. All the other manufacturers we evaluated would have had to start at the development stage,” Duffek recalls. He is now a ‘Cobot expert’ because under his leadership, three systems for the automated measurement of edges, radii and defects are currently in use in Munich.

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