Precision cutting tools manufacturer Walter recently teamed up with machine builder Starrag AG for the fifth annual Turbine Technology Days at Starrag headquarters in Rorschacherberg, Switzerland. The event, which attracted more than 200 visitors from 19 countries, focused on improving turbine manufacturing productivity and reliability, and on developments in machining and control technology.

Aerospace turbine production increases are forcing engine primes and suppliers to increase production, and machine builders are being called on to meet higher quality criteria while also facing increased competition from globalization.

Walter and Starrag are developing application-specific solutions in partnership with their customers.

Starrag CEO Walter Börsch says, “We have extensive process expertise, which includes machine, tool, and device technology, as well as software and control technology.”

Starrag and Walter displayed 14 stations with practical examples to illustrate opportunities and the diverse improvements that can be gained through digitalization and modern software.

Walter AG’s CEO Mirko Merlo emphasizes, “Digital solutions are the future of modern machining. It is no longer just about turning, milling, drilling, and threading. Perfection and precision are basic requirements. Tailored and efficient processes are important prerequisites for this.”;

Hex-chrome coating alternative

Coatings for Industry Inc. (CFI), Souderton, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a U.S. patent for its Alseal 5K – a non- toxic, environmentally-responsible, heat- and corrosion- resistant coating for jet turbine components as an alternative to coatings containing hexavalent chromium (Cr+6).

Cr+6 is known to be toxic and carcinogenic, so the coatings demand strict compliance with U.S. OSHA and Europe’s new REACH regulations, and must be handled with care.

CFI developed Alseal 5K coating to improve worker and environmental safety while matching durability and performance of systems containing Cr+6. “Alseal 5K eliminates the hazards associated with hexavalent chromium in aluminum- ceramic coatings,” says Bruce McMordie, director of Alseal operations at CFI. The heat-cured slurry coating can protect compressors, shafts, and other components of jet engines.

Alseal 5K is specified by and in use by Pratt & Whitney on their jet engines. Other manufacturers are evaluating the coating.

Nadcap approval for furnace brazing

Solar Atmospheres’ Greenville, South Carolina, facility has expanded its scope of Nadcap approval to include vacuum furnace brazing for the growing aerospace manufacturing cluster in the U.S. Southeast.

Jon Collier, quality manager at Solar Atmospheres in Greenville, states, “This accomplishment speaks to the effort of the entire Solar team coming together to build and implement the additional systems required to achieve this expansion of scope.”

With thermal processing in furnaces ranging from those suited for small lots and development cycles, to a 6.5ft-diameter x 24ft-long vacuum chamber capable of processing up to 50,000 lb at 2,400°F, Solar Atmospheres is backed by AS9100 and Nadcap quality systems to provide assurance that products are being processed appropriately.

USMTO orders push recovery into seventh month

Expansion of manufacturing technology orders slowed in August 2017 but pushed the ongoing recovery into its third quarter, according to a recent U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report. August orders were up 16% from July 2017 and 14% from August 2016.

“The 16% growth in orders in August was surprising as orders tend to slow during the summer months,” AMT – The Association For Maufacturing Technology President Doug Woods says. “Meetings with our industry’s top executives at the European manufacturing technology show in Hannover – EMO – were peppered with optimism for continued growth through the rest of 2017 and into 2018.” [For examples, see EMO Hannover Roundtable, page 34.]

August orders continued to expand due to significant growth in orders placed by the job-shop industry, power generation, and several significant aerospace projects. Though the Northeast typically benefits from growth in aerospace investments, the region recorded a 4% decline in orders relative to July. Every other USMTO region posted double-digit increases and the south-central region posted a near doubling of orders in August.

More optimism comes from the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which climbed to more than 60 in September, the first time since June 2004. Published by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), a PMI higher than 50 represents expansion of the manufacturing sector when compared to the previous month.