Between spec and reality – do you really know how you’re peening?

By Ron Wright
Automated Airblast & Peening Manager at Wheelabrator

In high-spec peening applications in aerospace and automotive, precision and repeatability of peening results are critical to part life and performance. This starts with getting the process right to consistently meet the specification. But how do you know if you’ve got it right? And what if the spec has been misinterpreted in the first place?

Here in the US, the old MIL spec S13165 used to provide the main frame of reference – a shot peening bible everyone was using. However, it allowed room for interpretation on the way test results are judged, adding to an already quite common confusion, even among seasoned shot peeners. In particular, it failed to properly explain intensity and coverage and how these two factors relate to the desired outcome.

The latest AMS 2430 standard has clarified the ambiguity, but there still are quite a few misconceptions in the field around how and what to test or measure – and how to interpret test results. In a worst case scenario, this could lead to parts that are not fit for purpose – without this being picked up in testing.

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Automotive is booming. But what’s next for Mexico?

By Pierre Tanguay
Senior VP OEM Operations for North America at Wheelabrator

Monterray-Web-560Mexico’s history as an important hub for the global automotive industry goes back almost 100 years: to 1925, when Ford established a manufacturing base in the country. It has gone through its ups and downs since, but helped by a strategic geographical position, a strong industrial tradition, and a myriad of free trade agreements, the sector has been experiencing a long boom period over the last decade.

As part of the team who built up Wheelabrator’s presence in Mexico, I’ve witnessed this exciting time for industry right on the ground in Monterrey. But I can now also see that Mexico’s industrial boom doesn’t stop at Automotive, with plenty of other sectors expanding. Here’s my round-up (with a slight blast equipment bias).

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How to make mean machines go lean

By Jake Higley, Guest blogger
Lean Manufacturing Manager, Titan Steel Wheels, Kidderminster, UK

When we started our lean journey here at Titan Steel Wheels, everyone thought our shot blast machines were basically incorrigible. The downtime caused by these four old troopers was taken as an unchangeable fact of life – even though it was constantly causing issues across production.

We had to challenge this mindset and then go and prove everyone wrong – by tackling the ultimate maintenance challenge: making our shot blast equipment run like clockwork.

smartphoneToday our blast machines perform like never before, which saves us a lot of time and money. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way, which is applicable not just to shot blast machines, but to production overall: my top tips for changing behaviour, improving operations and going lean – however mean the machine.
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Aerospace in China – The next frontier: machine maintenance

By Lily Jin
Sales Director, Aerospace China, Wheelabrator

AerospaceThe last ten years have been a great success for Aerospace here in China. The sector is going from strength to strength, boosted by the Chinese government’s vision of building its own large passenger jets. The ambition to take on Airbus and Boeing has fuelled its desire to keep improving quality – and the tools needed to achieve it. I can certainly see more and more investment into new, sophisticated machines and processes.

The organisations in Aerospace that I deal with every day are looking for high-tech equipment that gives them the quality, reliability and process control they need for advanced Aerospace manufacturing. It’s an industry with one of the most highly skilled workforces, who can work in partnership with our local technical support teams.

We cover wheelblast as well as airblast technology for Aerospace applications, but the latter is by far the most common, which is why all our engineers are trained at our dedicated Technology Centre in Charleville, France. It specialises in high-spec airblast technology for Aerospace and high-end Automotive. Together with highly skilled and knowledgeable machine operators at our customer sites, they can commission and run the most sophisticated equipment. The new challenge for the industry lies elsewhere. Continue reading

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Shot blasting as keyhole surgery

By Bernd Busskamp
Sales Director, OEM Air Germany, Wheelabrator

LancesPart geometries in Automotive are getting more and more complex – to cut overall vehicle weight and optimise the performance of each and every component.

The latest trend we’re seeing is the rise of parts with intricate internal areas. These can be engine blocks that resemble a Swiss cheese, or hollow torsion bars with multiple bends.

The challenge: these parts have to be shot blasted too – be it for cleaning and deburring or for precision peening. But how do you blast the inner walls of a long and winding cavity inside an engine block casting? And how do you do this efficiently?

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Shot peening – a ‘must’ where safety is paramount

By Alain Portebois
Sales & Marketing Manager, Charleville Technology Centre, Wheelabrator

AerospaceShot peening makes parts stronger to improve their resistance to fatigue failure – that’s the simple conclusion of a highly complex story about residual tensile and compressive stresses. It’s also the reason why a lot of high-spec shot peening was pioneered in Aerospace, where parts have to be light and strong for obvious reasons.

I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to say that, in Aerospace, shot peening is a safety-critical process.

On the ground, it’s easy to design parts that don’t fail. You work with a generous safety factor and make it a couple of times as strong as the highest load expected. However, such an engineering approach would not work for Aerospace.
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Architects, stand your ground!

By Tony Grammauro
VP/ General Manager, Wheelabrator Impact Finishers UK

Paddington peening

Shot peened surfaces at Paddington Station

While our day-to-day work here at Impact Finishers revolves around the peening of aerospace and high-end automotive parts, we occasionally get involved in spectacular architectural projects – like the new Giant’s Causeway visitor centre, parts of the new Paddington Station or the famous Paternoster Vents by Heatherwick Studio.

Shot peening in architecture (and art!) is used for stainless steel elements that have to be aesthetically stunning, yet durable.

The peening process creates a subtle lustre on the steel, while protecting the surface against pitting corrosion and damage. It becomes scratch and vandalism resistant, glare-free and maintenance-friendly – without having to apply any coating to the surface. All this makes it attractive to architects who work on high-spec projects in the public realm or other high-footfall areas.

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Is MINT the new BRIC? A look at infrastructure investments

By Viktor Lussi
Sales Director, Wheelabrator

worldwide communityThere has been a lot of talk recently about the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), who are also part of the “Next Eleven” list of emerging economies. Beyond the catchy names, these groupings highlight potential opportunities for globally operating organisations with specialist offerings – like Wheelabrator.

However, demand for fast moving consumer products (or FMCG) is a lot easier to predict and respond to than long-term industry and infrastructure investment. For us here in Zürich, the latter is the interesting bit and it’s a tough one to gauge.

Too fast for the road

Demand for our equipment in emerging economies is closely related to the development of advanced infrastructure. Sometimes it’s down to seemingly banal things like: are the streets good enough to accommodate fast cars, that in turn require advanced manufacturing equipment to build?
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Foreign correspondent, cultural explorer, machine fitter

By Birgit Bernhard
Service Technician, Wheelabrator Plus

NASA cleanroom or very clean foundry operation?

NASA cleanroom or very clean foundry operation?
Image: NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn

I work in a lot of foundries in my job. As a global service engineer, I oversee the deployment of heavy-duty shotblast equipment in all four corners of the world.

The first thing you notice in a job like mine is how different foundries can be. Operations that pretty much produce the same parts, in the same country, can look like a NASA cleanroom at one end of the spectrum or like something reminiscent of the industrial revolution at the other end. I like them all. It shows that there are different ways of doing things and it keeps my life interesting.

More interesting, though, are the cultural differences, the new things you get to see and the friends you make.

A couple of things happen when you’re in a niche job with a global scope. Here’s a selection that some of you may recognise, either because you’re working in a foundry or because you’re a travelling engineer like me.

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Test it, accelerate it, integrate it – blast processes for automotive

By Heinrich Dropmann
Sales Director, OEM Wheel Germany, Wheelabrator

Metelen Technology Centre

Metelen Technology Centre

If you ask me what the trends are in Automotive that impact our day-to-day work as a blast equipment manufacturer, it’s not new materials or radically new processes that spring to mind.

The three things we’ve seen and responded to here in Metelen (and across the Wheelabrator network) all revolve around speed. They are: testing, acceleration and integration.

Testing, testing, testing

Blast processes play an important role in lightweight construction nowadays, allowing engineers to design parts thinner and lighter, and then strategically strengthen them through targeted shot peening.
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