Erodex UK are seeking an international partner capable of taking their new turbine blade & NGV inspection innovation Valid8 to market on a global scale.
Valid8, developed in house by Erodex engineers, is a ground breaking automated solution which will speed up the process of checking cooling hole geometry on turbine blades and NGV’s within the Aerospace and IGT industries.
At present, this is a long winded, manual process involving gauging and visual inspection from human operators. Because this also involves the inspection of a high volume of components the slow pace causes a bottle neck, which has existed within the industry for a long time.
To date, the industry has successfully speeded up the production of turbine blade and NGV’s, with optimization of grinding processes, EDM processes and the casting process -all except for the checking of the final product.
Erodex UK Director Steve Rolinson comments: From our conversations within both the IGT and Aerospace industries, we knew that this process needed to be speeded up to reduce the inspection backlogs – and our creation of Valid8 was in direct response to that.
“Rather than using an off the shelf piece of kit, something needed developing that was very specific to that problem. Valid8 combines robots, lights and software with the result being a very quick and accurate system to inspect cooling hole geometry”.
Valid8 successfully and repeatably inspects the geometry of the cooling hole and can also determine whether the hole is blocked or partially blocked.
“Valid8 can check the area of the cooling hole, as well as the maximum, mean and minimum diameter measurements. Traditionally these features would be checked with pin gauges, a laborious process that is also open to human error. Valid8 also outputs a digital pin gauge comparison for customers that want to align the test with their current methods. Our machine has been validated by the National Physical Laboratory” adds Rolinson.
As development of Valid8 progressed, Erodex became aware of many other inspection problems within the aerospace and IGT industries, such as measuring NGV seal slots – and sought to have Valdi8 solve these issues.
As a result, Valid8 can very quickly take a measurement of an NGV seal slot. Compared to a CMM inspection, which takes for example 20 minutes, Valid8 can inspect within 5 minutes. As well as position, it can measure the depth and form of the seal slot using laser technology.
Rolinson continues: “Not only is this a massive time saver, but all results and every detail of the inspection can be stored in the cloud, ensuring full traceability. Inspections results are stored by part number, serial number and are time/date stamped. The machine is capable of reading data matrix code to capture component serial numbers within the automated process.
“Users can also look at assessing the condition of turbine blade / NGV ceramic coatings to determine pass or fail. The coating check uses visual recognition, where we have trained the machine to recognise what a good part should look like and then using various parameters such as measuring reflection of light, we can determine whether it fits within our pass/ fail criteria. The machine remains intuitive, so new conditions can be added to the library of pass / fail conditions for the life of the product”.
“We have also identified further uses of the machine, which with the right partner with the right knowledge we would also be able to move forward with”.
Valid8 is patented technology and now the search begins to identify a global partner to take this to market.
Rolinson concludes: “Erodex are first and foremost a distributor and a manufacturer of fast-moving products. Whilst we recognised a clear need and developed the technology to fulfil it, we are not a machine tool capital equipment company and are therefore not able to globally market such a product”.
“We are looking for a partner that as well as taking Valid8 to market under a licensing agreement, has the global structure to maintain and service when and where required”.
“To date, everybody that has seen Valid8 in operation has said that it is a game changer for the industry. Our aim now is to partner up with a company that can take this product worldwide, enabling various Aerospace and Industrial Gas Turbine companies to benefit from the technology”.
Erodex are actively seeking interested parties to make contact and visit their UK headquarters in Halesowen, West Midlands to see Valid8 in operation first-hand and discuss further commercial opportunities.
To express an interest in a visit, email: Steve.Rolinson@erodex.com
Watch Valid8 in action below…