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Aerospace surface treatment engineers, the Wallwork Group, will highlight their services for micro fine surface coatings, heat treatment, vacuum brazing and research and development at the Farnborough Airshow. In keeping with aerospace demands for lean and just-in-time production, the company will be emphasising the rapid turnaround service that they provide from their three UK locations in Manchester, Birmingham and Cambridge enabling them to process components with a typical 24 hour turnaround

“The challenge to reduce lifetime cost of ownership and improve return on investment is a major issue for aerospace manufacturers, airline operators and repair overhaul and maintenance contractors,” explained director, Simeon Collins. “Reducing fuel use and extending major service intervals to give more on-wing time brings these objectives together and meets a vital third criteria – better environmental performance. Wallwork offers both mature heat treatment technology and advanced metal treatment processes that achieve these goals. We can help lower fuel consumption significantly, sustaining this improved performance and extend the scheduled maintenance interval to reduce life-time costs for operators.”

A good example of this is Nitron Flight a multi-layer coating system. This is based on chromium, chromium/aluminium, titanium or carbon/metal carbide and is applicable to many aircraft components including landing gear, engine bearings, engine compressor sections and high temperature engine seals. The coating imparts properties such as high hardness, resilience to frictional wear and higher endurance to aggressive airflow to extend performance and endurance.

Proof of principle comes from an extended trial with an overhaul and repair contractor on behalf of a major carrier. The coating on compressor blades has been proven to improve fuel consumption by around $48,000 per year. As a consequence CO2 emissions have been reduced by 290 tonnes. The coating maintains optimum aerofoil profile on the blades so fuel savings are sustained longer. The interval between overhaul is also widened with technicians noting that the retention of the smoother surface causes less encrustation to accumulate while minor scaling that does arise is far easier to remove than that on untreated blades.

Titanium is increasingly used in aerospace for its high strength to weight ratio and fatigue resistance. The poor coefficient of friction of the metal may give rise to metal to metal adhesion and undermine performance. The Wallwork solution to this problem is Nitron O, a titanium based duplex coating that improves the surface properties of titanium components. This enables them to withstand significantly higher loads, avoiding galling and adhesion problems so creating a tribologically functional system.

The two-phase Nitron O process is completed in a single cycle that includes an initial plasma-based hardening process that creates a deep nitrided case in the titanium alloy with an additional titanium or chromium layer that is applied by physical vapour deposition (PVD). The resultant surface is hard and strong, making it both resilient and naturally lubricious.

Carbon coatings are a Wallwork speciality. These encompass the full spectrum of finishes from highly lubricious graphitic films to diamond coating with extreme hardness. Carbon coatings containing variable proportions of SP2 and SP3 bonds can be formulated to provide different degrees of resilience and lubrication according to the requirements of the application.

Diamond coating is particularly applicable to tools used in the drilling and cutting of aerospace composites. Conventionally hardened tools deteriorate rapidly in use to produce ragged edged cuts causing secondary damage and weakening of the material. Diamond coated tools cut cleanly, with less friction and heat and last longer so there are fewer stoppages for tool changing to give lower cost and productivity gains.

Heat treatment is a key element in the Wallwork portfolio. A full range of vacuum, sealed quench and salt bath heat treatment processes are available to permit the hardening of components to improve their performance and cost effectiveness. Additional capacity for vacuum heat treatment has been installed since the last airshow extending company capacity for both high volume small components and larger components.

Vacuum brazing is a growing market for Wallwork. Brazed components offer both high strength with the ductility to cope with vibration and stress common in aerospace applications. These properties arise from brazing under high vacuum that eliminates surface oxidation so that materials are more effectively bonded. A dedicated unit has been established to provide a capability to braze even the most complex components that combine many elements. The company has a variety of vacuum furnaces available to support this process and so is able to take bespoke and low volume development work to full volume production.

Technical collaboration with aerospace majors and components suppliers is increasingly important. The Wallwork Group has research and development facilities equal to those found in major universities enabling the company to develop customised processes and treatment to optimise component performance taking these processes from prototype to full scale production as required with complete quality assurance.

“In addition to leading edge processes, another major point of difference is that we adhere to traditional engineering service values. Because we run a 24/7 operation and via our own dedicated transport fleet we can turn round most orders within the same working day, helping our customers meet their production goals” Simeon Collins concluded.

More Information
Simeon Collins, Sales Director
Tel. +44 (0)161 797 9111 Fax. +44 (0)161 763 1861
E-mail: simeon.collins@wallworkht.com Web: www.wallworkht.com
Wallwork Heat Treatment Ltd, Lord Street, Bury, Greater Manchester, BL9 0RE

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