In aerospace engineering, precision is more than an ideal to strive for— it’s a key factor in the reliability, performance, and safety of every component.  This project with a leading tier-1 aerospace industry supplier—known for its complex engine components—highlighted our capabilities in providing world-class precision grinding services, utilizing advanced grinding technology, and collaborating with our customers to solve even the most demanding manufacturing challenges.

Mastering Aerospace Precision Grinding with Inconel-Based Components

We were tasked with precision grinding Inconel-based knife edge seals, a critical component for maintaining efficiency in turbine engines. These parts were processed using CNC precision grinding. The plasma-coated knife seals required meticulous handling, ensuring adherence to the highest precision grinding standards.

The problem with the seals was initially discovered during a routine quality control check. Our precision measurements revealed that the parts were out of round, a condition not immediately visible but critical to the engine’s performance. This distortion, known colloquially as the “potato chip effect,” was traced back to prior machining operations. While accurate in isolation, these operations induced stresses in the material, causing it to warp like a potato chip – flat, yet subtly distorted.

The cause of this distortion was twofold: First, the inherent properties of Inconel, a material notorious for its challenging machinability and tendency to warp under stress. Second, the machining process had inadvertently introduced uneven stresses across the component. This was a significant cause for concern because even the slightest deviation from the true roundness could lead to inefficiencies and force the parts to be scrapped and remade.

Expertise and Grinding Process Optimization Solves Part Distortion Challenge

In seeking solutions, our team contemplated several potential avenues. One option was to revise the initial machining process to reduce stress introduction. Another solution we explored involved employing advanced grinding technology to compensate for and correct the distortion.

The solution came through collaborative innovation and grinding process optimization. Our general manager, Ray worked closely with the customer’s engineers, employing advanced grinding technology and high-precision tools. This collaboration led to a new methodology in the CNC precision grinding process for this component, improving the stability and accuracy of the parts in their operational state.

Collaborative Engineering and Process Innovation:

Revising the Machining Process 

The first step involved working closely with the customer’s engineering team to revisit the initial machining process. By adjusting the machining parameters, the team aimed to reduce the stress introduction in the Inconel material. This revision required a delicate balance to maintain the precision of the machining while minimizing the introduction of internal stresses that could lead to distortion.

Advanced Precision Grinding Techniques

Duval Precision Grinding leveraged its advanced grinding technology to address the distortion specifically. We employed a combination of CNC and manual precision grinding techniques tailored to the unique challenges of the distorted Inconel parts. High-precision grinding tools and carefully calibrated machinery were used by experienced grinders to gently remove material and correct the roundness without adding further stress to the part.

Implementing a Specialized Fixture Design

A specialized fixture was designed to address the issue of the parts distorting once released from a constrained state. This fixture mimicked the operational state of the parts more closely, allowing the team to grind the components in a condition that closely resembled their final installed state. This approach helped to mitigate the spring-back effect once the parts were released from the fixture.

Iterative Testing and Quality Control

Throughout the process, the team implemented rigorous testing and quality control measures. Each step of the revised process was closely monitored, and parts were frequently checked for accuracy and distortion. This iterative approach ensured that each adjustment was effective and that the final product met the stringent aerospace precision standards expected by the customer.

This solution effectively addressed the challenges posed by the Inconel knife edge seals. By combining revisions to the machining process, advanced grinding techniques, specialized fixture design, and rigorous quality control, Duval Precision Grinding was able to prevent the distortion. This approach solved the immediate problem and set a new precedent for handling similar challenges in the future.

Raising the Bar in Precision Grinding Services

More than just a demonstration of industrial grinding solutions, this customer engagement was a masterpiece of problem-solving and partnership. Precision grinding quality control was front and center, dealing with materials like Inconel that challenge even the most advanced grinding technology. Our ability to adapt our precision grinding techniques proved crucial in delivering a successful outcome.

Duval Precision Grinding’s work on this aerospace component exemplifies our commitment to excellence in precision grinding applications. From aerospace precision grinding to automotive and medical device precision grinding, our team is equipped to handle the most demanding challenges. We pride ourselves on being a service provider at the forefront of precision grinding, constantly evolving our techniques and equipment to meet the industry’s highest standards.

Choose Duval for Unmatched Precision & World-Class Service

Our team’s proven expertise, cutting-edge technology, and commitment to top quality make us the ideal choice for all your precision grinding needs. Contact us today to discover how we can help you achieve the highest standards in precision grinding.

Share This