17 May 2011

Laesrdyne FlowComp combines high speed laser drilling with air flow testing - ensuring all forms of laser drilled holes are within specification

FlowComp™, a "first of its kind" technology, has been introduced by Prima North America's Laserdyne Systems. FlowComp is a unique closed loop hardware and software feature that combines laser drilling with air flow measurement on Laserdyne 795 and Laserdyne 450 multi-axis laser systems.

Designed initially at a specific customer's request to meet increasingly difficult aerospace turbine engine requirements, this new feature has application in both aero and landbased turbine engine components. FlowComp software adjusts the size of laser drilled holes without operator input to ensure that cooling holes are drilled within tolerance and that the result is verified by flow-testing. The end result is consistent processing at very high speed within specification and with data logging in real-time to verify compliance.

Laserdyne's FlowComp first records air flow test results and then adjusts subsequent hole size, as required, so that the laser hole drilling process remains within tolerance over the course of thousands of drilled holes. Higher quality holes means more consistent air flow with no scrapped or re-worked parts. Typically, the parts being processed are high value components, with real cost of thousands of dollars. Laser drilling is often the last operation performed so it is critical that the process is completed without problems.

The FlowComp development is significant as turbine engine components are increasingly complex. To minimize fuel use, noise and pollution, components are now being designed with shaped holes and holes positioned at very shallow angles (10°) to the part surface. These complex holes may be as small as 0.008 inches (0.2 mm) in diameter, making them challenging to laser drill at very high speed. The tight hole tolerances benefit from the ability to make hole size adjustments smaller than 0.001 inch (0.025 mm). FlowComp, along with OFC© (Optical Focus Control) and other Laserdyne developed features, ensures that there is minimal laser drilling variability by keeping the focused laser beam diameter, location of drilling, and depth of focus required to maintain constant beam quality.

"This new technology was designed to meet the changing needs of the aerospace industry," reports Terry L. VanderWert, president of Prima North America*. “These needs are increasingly stringent and are based on industry desire to have processes that are not dependent on operator judgment for consistent results. Air flow testing and compensation is the next step in the evolutionary process of laser drilling of turbine engine components. FlowComp is easy to integrate into the manufacturing environment, produces positive assurance that hole drilling is under control, and ensures tight tolerances. I am confident that our customers will be using FlowComp as their process inspection tool even when air flow is not specified, particularly when coupled with the built-in data logging feature."

"We are pleased and proud to bring this new FlowComp capability to component manufacturers worldwide. Our commitment remains the same as it was 30 years ago when 3 Laserdyne was founded - to provide laser systems that enable the full capability of laser processing to be realized," reported Mr. VanderWert. "We have developed a simple test that demonstrates for our customers the function and capability of FlowComp. Within a few hours, we can show any visitor what FlowComp can mean for them. We are inviting our customer base to visit us in Champlin, Minnesota to see how this feature will change the way they perform all forms of laser drilling.”

With over 30 years of experience and 650 laser systems in use worldwide, Laserdyne System products have become the technology standard for the aerospace industry and are used in turbine engine manufacturing facilities across North America, Europe and Asia.

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