As in any relationship there are certain requirements needed to ensure a successful, long-term partnership vs. a “until something better comes along” situation.
In the case of selecting the best metrology machinery supplier and measurement partner for a particular industry, what are the most vital requirements?
- The right range of equipment for many typical applications
- An understanding of the solutions needed
- Experience with the applications, programming, training and support
- Flexibility to produce non-catalog, specialized machines & systems
- Experience in implementing the latest sensors and software
Actually, we think it’s all of five of the above. You could say they are your keys for choosing your ideal aerospace measurement partner.
Isn’t Wenzel America mainly focused on automotive?
Not exactly. Although we historically began as a supplier to the German Automotive industry, producing Horizontal Arm CMMs for car body measurement, Bridge CMMs for powertrain applications, and milling and measuring solutions for automotive design studios, Wenzel soon developed areas of expertise in aerospace measurement and medical, gear and other industries.
From the beginning, our focus has been to implement the latest sensors available from the industry pioneers at Renishaw. We’ve also consistently developed our own specialized sensors adaptable to industries beyond automotive, including aerospace.
What exactly are the measurement needs in the aerospace sector?
- Airframe parts, large and small, geometric and airfoil shapes
- Aero engine cylindrical components
- Aero engine turbine blades, nozzle guide vanes, blisks and other airfoil shapes
- Aero engine shafts with splines and couplings
- Complex multi material assemblies and connectors
- Very large assemblies
Does your intended measuring partner meet these aerospace measurement challenges?
By focusing on precision and proven metrology in our hardware development and our metrology software, while also maintaining flexibility to solve customer problems with other 3rd party software when needed or requested, we have quickly increased our expertise and machine adoption in Aerospace. When looking for a measurement partner, how well they would meet up with each of the above needs would be vital.
Can they measure large and small airframe parts, geometric, and airfoil shapes?
Recent survey data suggest the Wenzel LHF Travelling Bridge and the 2015 Gantry machines are the most recognized machines in the aerospace sector.
In addition to these strengths, we think another point in choosing the best partner for any endeavor should also take into account their willingness to be flexible to your needs and
go the extra mile. In that regard, our willingness and ability to manufacture non-standard measuring machines (e.g., long thin machines for the airframe sector) has made Wenzel CMMs indispensable for many North American airframe and aero engine manufacturers.
How well can they measure aero engine cylindrical components or blisks?
For cylindrical engine components and blisks, the same LHF Travelling Bridge and 2015 LH Gantry machines used for airframes can be configured with Renishaw’s REVO probe head to provide a CMM with the maximum speed, access, penetration, and flexibility. These Wenzel measuring machine configurations can also be found in use by many North American aero engine manufacturers for this application.
Do they have solutions for the challenges of single turbine blades and vanes?
In the case of single turbine blades and vanes, we have two very unique and capable machines for precision aerospace measurement. The specific applications and scenarios where we would recommend these high-speed solutions can be found in the CORE vs. REVO article on our blog.
In the article, we give an in-depth comparison of the optical scanning CORE and an LHG CMM with 5-Axis REVO but we’ll give one spoiler here — If you need a compact, shop-floor system for single blade measurement from 2 to 80 inches, no CMM can compete with Wenzel CORE machines. In fact, most North American and European Tier 1 blade suppliers and aero engine manufacturers have a CORE on their shop floor right now.
Is there a solution for shafts with splines and complex couplings?
Shafts with tight tolerance dimensions and run-outs, splines and complex couplings can be inspected on the range of Wenzel Gear Testing machines.
What about measuring aerospace connectors and complex multi-material assemblies?
Measurement of electronic ‘boxes’ and aerospace connectors are critical and difficult to measure with typical metrology machines. Of course, Wenzel’s exaCT Computed Tomography machines are not typical metrology.
Our exaCT range of Computed Tomography (CT) scanning machines are not only unique, they are the ideal solution for measuring internal or external components in multi-material assemblies.
Despite huge potential of CT scanning in metrology settings its use is in its infancy, but the innovation CT brings to the table is rather significant. We’ve written a number of articles about Computed Tomography and the exaCT machines that really just scratch the surface of potential measuring applications and industries that could benefit.
To get an idea of how it could impact aerospace’s multi-material assembly measurement, a good place to start with this article on CT Scanners by Andy Woodward from our June issue of Metrology Matters.
Does your potential measuring partner work well with others?
There’s a book that talks about how you learned everything important in kindergarten, remember — “works and plays well with others”? If your goal is to solve any and all measuring problems, then having this one down is a pretty big deal.
As mentioned earlier, in addition to years of applications experience and expertise with our own metrology software, we have the knowledge and flexibility to work with and use other vendors’ products as well.
Our own software, OpenDMIS, supports up to 6 axes including CORE and REVO. It has an excellent blade analysis package, AS9102 first article reporting format, and the language needed for power-programmers and parametric programming. So, it is quite versatile and robust on its own.
But, sometimes customers need or ask for different solutions, in which case we’ve supplied machines with Metrologic, created a shop-floor gauging solution that runs Renishaw’s MODUS, and several other software options where needed and requested.
Is Wenzel America your ideal aerospace measuring partner?
We’ll let you decide. Using this article as your guide for choosing your aerospace measuring partner should make your decision a relatively simple task.
Other than very large assemblies, there is no measurement or inspection task in the aerospace sector we have not handled.
Wenzel’s intrinsically accurate granite CMMs integrated with cutting edge sensors and the most advanced software are only enhanced by our flexibility as a family-owned supplier dedicated to tailor making any aerospace measuring solution you may need.
Combine all that with truly unique and disruptive applications from CT to CORE to REVO – you’ll be hard pressed to find a better measuring partner in the world of aerospace and turbo machinery.