PRIMA North America's Laserdyne Systems, Champlin, Minn., has introduced FlowComp, 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 land-based turbine engine components. FlowCompTM 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 degrees) 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.