High pressure and extreme temperatures are definitely something that materials sent into space need to cope with. The fuel tanks for the European carrier rocket “Ariane” are an important component of the aerospace
project and have high complexity and extraordinary safety requirements.
This component is produced by MT Aerospace. A Wheelabrator airblast machine operates to remove scale from the dome and cylinder segments. These parts have a diameter of 3000mm, a max. height of
3500mm and a max. segment weight of 6.3 tonnes. The machine is equipped with a transport car and a hydraulic roof oscillation, aluminium oxide is used as abrasive. The layer of scale on the cylinders and dome which remains on the surface after enhancement is removed by the airblast machine.
The process must ensure a minimum roughness of the exterior and interior surfaces so that subsequent coating can take place. The blasting of the dome and cylinder segments is achieved in a 2-shift operation by a fully automated, pressure-fed blast machine, which up to now has been equipped with a Sinumerik control.
After many years of operation, the abrasive was causing a high level of wear and tear, which meant a complete overhaul of the airblast machine was necessary. The Wheelabrator Plus team would do this as part of the Equipment Modernisation Programme (EMP).
The aim was to increase the driving speed, hence an adaptation of the electrical control to Sinumerik 40D, which instigated a completely new electrical installation for the blast machine.
Apart from a greater efficiency and process reliability, the main focus of the Wheelabator Plus modernisation programme was to enhance the parts handling system. The tank segments are now blasted in the revamped machine from both sides in one single process cycle and remains the blast chamber of the machine for the entire period.
The EMP process by Wheelabrator involves a diligent preliminary inspection and analysis and the improvement of singular process flows. The combination of the modernisation elements installed at MT Aerospace now provides a 50% increase in the total blasting capacity compared to the former blast machine.
Further improvements have resulted in a reduction in machine wear, a proven increase of machine availability, simultaneous reliability of the production process and a continuous high quality blast result.