Specialized In-House Solution For Precision Cleaning of Gas Turbine

As part of their new project, a customer came in with a very complex part. The part is for a large domestic gas turbine manufacturer, and its internal cleanliness is paramount. Any debris left in the part could find its way into the turbine, wreaking havoc with the blades and the turbine’s performance.

There are many methods to precision clean parts, yet this part posed unique challenges. The precision cleaning process includes an emphasis on removing soil and debris in relation to the design of the parts, and is often performed on precision parts that are manufactured with infinitesimal precision or complex dimensions. This particular job needed a specialized approach due to its intricate design.

To comprehend its precision cleaning requirements, it’s necessary understand the complex design. The part begins as a massive 850-pound block of metal that undergoes machining of irregularly shaped grooves that act as passageways for the fuel to flow to the fuel nozzles. Once the intricate grooves are completed, thin metal strips are welded over the grooves to create the fuel passageways.

The final manufacturing step involves machining holes into both sides of the part. At this point, the machining creates chips that break through and get into the passageways. Because the passageways are difficult to access, the chips are impossible to see and efficiently remove.

Guided by our state-of-the-art, multi-directional articulating borescopes, we used specialized tools custom designed and built in-house to access the passageways. The borescopes we use have both still photo and video recording capabilities, allowing us to not only locate and see the debris, but to also view how to maneuver the specialized tools. We were able to clear all the debris out as well as record the entire removal process, proving beyond a doubt that the chips are completely removed. To ensure this, we provided verification through video recordings of both before and after conditions.

As gas turbine engines grow more sophisticated in both mechanical design and power capacity, it becomes increasingly important to resolve precision cleaning challenges with the highest accuracy. Many critical components require highly sensitive procedures to achieve efficient and safe performance, and to attain long-term and consistent service.

PTI Industries performs precision cleaning and cleanliness testing using a wide range of precision cleaning methods and equipment that include ultrasonic, CO2 snowgun, vapor degreasing, media blasting, aqueous immersion, turbulent flushing, and high-pressure spray. Our list of certifications and specialized process approvals are designed to comply with industry specifications. We examine each part’s precision cleaning needs to propose and devise the best industry-approved solution.

Contact Us at 860-698-9266 to discuss your precision cleaning challenge.

Engage Partner to Make Cleaning Part of Medical Device Offering

In our previous post we discussed the serious, even catastrophic consequences contamination can cause. Medical device manufacturers –from small machine shops to large corporations – need to establish protocols that enable them to consistently deliver clean components and meet regulatory standards.

According to the Institute of Validation Technology, the FDA, in its Quality System Regulations, states that each manufacturer must “establish and maintain procedures to prevent contamination of product by substances that could be expected to have an adverse effect on product quality.”

The FDA also requires medical device manufacturers to establish “documented cleanliness requirements.”

Beyond Your Core Competencies?

If you are like many precision manufacturers, you have deep expertise in producing machined and/or plastic molded parts to strict tolerances. However, cleaning those parts and documenting your decontamination procedures may be outside your core competencies. For that reason, many device manufacturers turn to specialty partners like PTI Industries for their cleaning and validation. Doing so enables manufacturers to meet industry requirements while eliminating costly equipment purchases, staff training, and numerous certification requirements.

With PTI Industries, you produce your parts, we clean and test* them, and then you take care of packaging and distribution. Together, we get your products to market quicker while allowing you to save time and money.

*Note: PTI does not test for Endotoxin

Specialized Services for the Medical Industry

PTI Industries offers several special cleaning and testing processes for the medical device industry, including:

Precision Cleaning and Cleanliness Testing: Ensures you have a documented and repeatable cleaning process to deliver results that exceed industry standards. Trained experts help to determine which precision cleaning process will produce the best outcomes, based on your components.

Passivation: Stainless steel is naturally corrosion-resistant; however, it becomes contaminated when subsequent forming and machining operations are performed that introduce free iron particles and other surface contaminants. Passivation treats stainless steel with a mild oxidant, such as citric acid solution, to remove surface contamination and enhance the spontaneous formation of a protective passive film on the steel’s surface.

Non-Destructive Testing: With the increasing demand for parts made to stricter tolerances, the use of non-destructive testing has become an integral part of the manufacturing process. Non-destructive testing confirms that parts have been produced without defects and ensures they will perform as expected.

Save time and eliminate potentially damaging results by outsourcing your precision cleaning and testing to PTI Industries. Together, we can determine solutions to help ensure the success of your medical device manufacturing process.

Why Outsourcing Medical Device Cleaning Makes Sense

Part cleanliness is critical in the medical device manufacturing process, helping to ensure product safety, quality, and consistency. Failure to meet required cleanliness standards can have catastrophic results, including part malfunction and the transmission of infection.

However, to achieve cleanliness standards and provide testing validation, medical device makers are burdened with costly equipment purchases, environmental regulations, staff training, and numerous certification requirements.

Not surprisingly, many device producers – from small machine shops to large corporations – outsource their cleaning and validation to specialty partners, thereby eliminating significant capital expenses as well as time-consuming tasks.

Treatment for Stainless Steel Devices

Stainless steel is a popular choice for medical devices, due to its corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel can become contaminated when subsequent forming and machining operations introduce free iron particles and other surface contaminants.

These stainless steel medical devices need to meet all standards for quality and safety. Through passivation, a chemical treatment using a mild oxidant such as citric acid, contamination is removed and the spontaneous formation of a protective passive film on the steel’s surface is achieved.

It is also important to ensure that the subsequent cleaning methods used are effective in the removal of endotoxins and/or bioburden from medical devices.

Partnering with Cleaning Specialists

PTI Industries is a one-stop cleaning specialist that offers you multiple cleaning methods and the accompanying certifications and approvals. Our proven solutions are designed for a wide range of demanding applications. For the medical device industry, we specialize in precision cleaning and cleanliness testing. Expert services include:

  • Measurement of particle weight down to one milligram and particle size down to five microns (.0002”)
  • Cleaning with Brulin 815 and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)
  • Availability of clean rooms from Class 1,000 to Class 100,000
  • Removal of endotoxins

Save time and eliminate potentially damaging results by outsourcing your precision cleaning and testing to PTI Industries. Together, we can determine solutions to help ensure the success of your medical device manufacturing process.

 

Inside the Nondestructive Testing Department

Of all the services PTI Industries provides, NDT (nondestructive testing) is one of the most important. Checking for the integrity of a part, whether you coat it or paint it later on, is critical to part performance. NDT testing checks for discontinuities or defects that could have occurred during any part of the production process, including casting, welding, or forging.

When a part comes in for NDT, it’s inspected for flaws and weaknesses without damaging the part in any way. “If 1,000 parts arrive, then 1,000 parts are tested and given 110% inspection,” said Mat Burke, Manager of NDT, Shot Peen, Coatings and Shipping. PTI doesn’t typically test for samples unless this is specifically agreed upon.

A Typical Day in the NDT Department

The NDT department tests and inspects anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 parts a day and averages 50,000 parts a month. Because PTI specializes in multi-process services, the majority of parts that arrive for nondestructive testing also receive other special processes. Only 12-15% of the parts that come through the NDT department don’t arrive from another department. Before reaching NDT, most parts receive services including passivation, dry film lubrication, and precision cleaning.

According to Burke, when working with customers it’s essential to be flexible without jeopardizing the integrity of the part. The NDT department is often a part’s last stop in multiple special processes. “A customer sends in an order for three processes that was quoted for eight days, but they want it in three days.  We pull this off on a regular basis,” Burke said.

Two Operating Sides for Two Critical Testing Methods

The NDT department is divided down the middle, with established incoming and outgoing areas. The left side of the room is set up for FPI (fluorescent penetrant inspection), also known as liquid penetrant inspection (LPI), and is run like an assembly line with tables holding penetrant well tanks.

Nonmagnetic parts are tested for defects using liquid penetrants as they are passed through one of two different defect sensitivity levels. A visible dye penetrant for lower sensitivities uses a white light and fluorescent penetrants for higher sensitivities uses ultraviolet light. Accurate results require thorough pre-cleaning decontamination, correct soak time, proper penetrant removal, followed by drying in a convection oven using a developer bleed-out.

On the right side of the department the MPT (magnetic particle inspection) section houses two individual machines. All MPT testing is done inside a solo machine to determine if any defects are present using calculated data that includes strength of current and direction of magnetic field.

MPI is a nondestructive testing method used on material that can be magnetized, or a ferromagnetic material such as cobalt, iron, nickel, or certain alloys. During the MPI process, small magnetic particles are attracted to any defects on or near the part’s surface. Demagnetization of the part follows, using special equipment to reverse the magnetic field and safeguard future machining and welding of the part, as well as your electronic equipment.

Test parameters and techniques are defined as parts arrive. Any fixtures and tools that are needed for the completion of NDT testing are completed in-house. Heavier parts, for example, could mean designing a hoist system to lift and move the components.

Qualified NDT Technicians

Certified technicians who are qualified based on the required level of training perform all the nondestructive testing and inspection. Training begins as an entry-level trainee before moving on to Level 1. Level 1 becomes a Level 2 technician and qualifies to inspect parts after meeting the required time of over 400 to 500 hours. To be a Level 3 technician, a minimum of four years in one discipline must be fulfilled, or eight years total to be qualified for both FPI and MPI.
All the training is done in-house, guaranteeing a more detailed instruction that ensures competent and fully qualified specialists for every NDT job. PTI’s Level 3 technician has over thirty years of experience and is designated a Responsible Level 3 because he oversees and is responsible for all the training, testing, and inspecting in the NDT department.

Quality Department Discovers Reason for Aerospace Engine Threading Failure

 

More goes on than measuring in PTI’s quality department. Assuring quality results is a dynamic process that isn’t limited to meeting the customer’s definition of quality. It’s going above and beyond the scope of quality department work to satisfy every customer requirement.

Sometimes this involves satisfying a requirement for a problem that a customer doesn’t know exists. For Dawn Stokes, Quality Assurance Manager, making sure everyone is following the rules is her primary focus. But when every rule is adhered to and something comes back flagged as a problem, it’s time to dig deeper.

PTI experienced a problem solving challenge with a major aerospace company’s parts that came in for dry film lubrication. “That’s how we discovered it. They thought it was a dry film issue because after our process, it wasn’t working,” Stokes said.

Dry Film Lubrication (DFL), also known as solid film lubrication, is the ideal solution for lubricating your parts when liquid-based lubricants fail to function properly. The dry film protective coating is more reliable for reducing surface friction between part surfaces.

The DFL department treated the engine parts with a protective coating and sent them on to quality. They passed inspection and were returned to the customer who promptly discovered a threading issue. During assembly, the parts, involving several engine orders, weren’t torqueing together correctly. The problem was believed to be in the dry film application and presented again to quality for inspection.

The quality department got help troubleshooting the problem parts from their “threading expert” who has background knowledge with threaded parts. Why weren’t the parts working properly under the specific threading dimensions they needed to adhere to? The problem wasn’t the dry film process, the expert determined, but the threading dimensions as defined in the blueprint.

“Looking closer at the prints, it just jumped out at him with all his thread knowledge,” Stokes said. “So he did the math to adjust the pitch in the threading,” and many conference calls with the customer later, the problem was resolved.

After careful review of the problem internally, the customer found that there was more than one engine group that had this same threading issue, and they ended up changing the requirements on their prints. They were able to apply this same engineering solution to another engine within the same part family.

Fixing problems in the quality department involves understanding the customer’s real needs and applying problem-solving skills that deliver true resolution and not just temporary fixes. Whatever special processes need you have, we have the expert to give you quality that goes beyond your requirements.

Parts from Palm-Sized To XXL

Most of you might already know that when you deliver your part to PTI, all your special process needs are taken care of in-house and in one stop. But did you also know that we’re set up to meet the unique requirements of each customer based on widely varying part sizes?

Imagine a kiddie wading pool or a coffin-sized crate. That’s how large some of the parts are that arrive in our shipping department. Now think of holding a paper clip in the palm of your hand. Parts smaller than this come in for multiple special processes, with a multitude of sizes in between.

Handling these myriad of part sizes is a challenge PTI is equipped for. Each department has the capabilities of treating and testing a vast range of different sized parts with differing characteristics. Part dimensions, material properties, design complexity, part application, and fabrication processes of the part are all variables that must be considered when determining the best process methods.

There are special process houses out there that specialize in multiple processes, but they are restricted by part size. There are also shops that can manage larger-sized parts, but they’re limited to one or two processes at most. PTI has nine different process solutions and works on a broad spectrum of part sizes, with a specialization in larger sizes that other shops can’t handle.

Processing of one such large-sized part includes the following sequence…

  1. Using a fork truck, the titanium part is moved to the NDT department and an initial inspection is performed
  2. It undergoes a fluorescent penetrant inspection to check for any flaws
  3. It then gets sent to shot peen where it is housed in a massive shot peen machine designed to accommodate its size
  4. This is followed by a stop at quality control before it receives precision cleaning and a final cleanliness testing
  5. It’s shipped back to the customer sealed in a clean room bag and housed in its oversized carton

Parts arrive at PTI in all shapes and sizes, and each part that you send us receives exclusive process treatment. Whether your part is steel, magnesium, aluminum, or titanium, we have the right solution for the material and size of your part.

Innovation In Response to Customer’s Increased Capacity

When a customer is implementing a new technology platform or experiencing capacity issues, PTI will work with them to research and evaluate their options. By creating a strategic process improvement plan, we’re able to define the necessary improvements that ensure you keep up with changing demands and function efficiently.

Process improvement occurs in each of our departments in response to customer need. The Precision Cleaning department now has a new automated bagger and a new scale as a result of a specific customer requirement. A new lathe is dedicated to a customer based on their demand for a machining process after bonding in order to handle a bottleneck in production. In the Non-Destructive Testing department, a new penetrant solution is being used on a customer part for detection of discontinuities.

One of our most recent innovations was in retooling for a specific part. A customer experienced a sudden increase in demand for one of their parts, with a resulting overload in capacity in our Adhesive Bonding department. We were able to quickly implement a tooling solution that would handle four parts instead of only one.

The new tooling allows the four parts to be cured in the oven at a time, quadrupling the process production output. By rapidly responding to an increased capacity need, our customer is able to meet their production schedule, by benefiting from a substantial time savings.

By emphasizing continuous process improvement in response to your current needs, we give you reliable and consistent results from one service department to the next. We proactively support you and help you find the best methods to increase quality, improve delivery performance, and reduce costs. Whether you require expert shot peening, dry film lubrication, adhesive bonding, or any of our other multi-process solutions, innovative improvements are a vital part of the PTI process to respond to fluctuating demands.

PTI Industries Cleared to Launch Precision Cleaning for SpaceX

Recently approved for precision cleaning of its aerospace parts by SpaceX, the space launch provider controlled by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, PTI will provide this critical service as SpaceX receives its own launch approval.

Certified by the U.S. Air Force after receiving strict security clearances, SpaceX is now eligible to compete for satellite launches of U.S. national security satellites. The Air Force’s certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket brings competition to national security space launches, giving greater leverage to the commercial space market.

What Else Does the Falcon 9 Rocket Do?

This ends the monopoly of United Launch Alliance with the Pentagon in sending military payloads into orbit, including GPS navigation satellites, missile warning platforms, weather satellites, and the National Reconnaissance Office’s orbiting spy payloads. The Falcon 9 rocket is also used for NASA, the U.S. civilian space agency, and commercial satellite operators.

One of the most recent Falcon 9 launches was June 15, 2016, when it lifted off a dual-satellite delivery from Cape Canaveral to broadcast video across Asia and Latin America, and to improve airplane navigation crossing the U.S. It’s set to launch again July 18 to send NASA’s Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station for the crews living there.

The certification from U.S. military comes ahead of the deadline for Russian-sourced engines for ULA’s rockets, a time limit not allowed past 2019. SpaceX, in contrast, builds most of its Falcon 9 from scratch right here in the U.S. It’s also an evolutionary design geared toward making reusable rockets.

This means that the escape rockets, which are mounted in the rocket’s base and not the tower like with Apollo, aren’t thrown away after use. Instead, they can be cleaned up and reconfigured for another flight. SpaceX is the first private company to launch a payload into orbit and make an upright landing and recovery, making sustainable rockets a reality.

PTI Industries is proud to support SpaceX’s achievements. By serving the nation’s military and aerospace industries with certified special processes, PTI continues to advance its mission for accurate process control that ensures part performance, reliability, and safety.

Adhesive Bonding Versus Welding

 When you consider adhesive bonding versus welding for securing your parts, strict specifications must be met while controlling the total cost. Switching over to a new joining process requires addressing many issues, including safety concerns, excessive down time, structural integrity, and structural degradation, as well as your overall manufacturing process.

Adhesive is the new kid on the block for many metal fabricators. The older adhesives weren’t ideal for bonding metal to metal, but newer adhesive types have proven their worth as a viable adhesive bonding option.

Here’s a comparison of the advantages of traditional welding to adhesive bonding’s newest technology:

Welding Advantages

  • No curing time needed in production process
  • Instantaneous procedure
  • Strong bond even at high temperatures
  • Flexibility with attachment location, including large objects with small welding areas
  • No shelf life or monitoring of storage time necessary

Adhesive Advantages

  • May reduce stress concentration points
  • No distorting or discoloring of thin metals
  • Won’t destroy galvanized coatings or cause corrosion
  • Gives a one-step seal and bond process
  • Joins dissimilar materials
  • Minor joint design changes to accommodate surface contact
  • Assembly of different masses and dimensions
  • Joins irregular shaped surfaces with minimal alteration to part dimensions
  • Gives increased fatigue strength by distributing stress across bonded area
  • Improved finished appearance
  • Training of workforce is less costly
  • Ideal for high-volume applications
  • Little or no post-process cleanup

Making the change from welding to adhesive bonding requires a comprehensive view of your bonding needs. Consider how your overall manufacturing time can be reduced with adhesive bonding by analyzing your processes.

Can you switch over to adhesive bonding with only procedural and part-flow changes? Will a change in joint geometry design pay off? If a change in your joining process improves efficiency and quality, and reduces overall manufacturing time, it’s worth the effort to switch from welding to adhesive bonding.

Your goal of cost savings and production efficiency requires choosing the most effective material for your adhesive bonding needs. Consult with your special processes provider for help with the right adhesive technology. PTI Industries offers high-tech adhesive bonding as part of a one-stop experience for all your special processes.

PTI Continues to Offer UTAS Special Processes for Civil and Military Aerospace Products

Jet EnginePTI Industries continues to offer special processes for critical aerospace components, helping the aerospace industry meet an increased demand while adhering to stringent quality standards. Strict adherence to NADCAP, FAA, and EASA certifications and accreditations ensures your parts performance, reliability, and safety.

United Technologies Aerospace Systems in Windsor Locks has shut down and decommissioned operation of their Plating and Special Process lines as of September 1, 2016.

If you have aerospace parts in need of UTAS special processes, our facility is a one-stop multi-service shop with services available for both military and commercial aircraft.

PTI Industries is approved for 5 special processes offered by UTAS:

  • FPI & Dye Penetrant
  • MPI
  • Solid Film Lubricant
  • Passivation
  • Flushing and Cleaning

See out List of Approvals and type “UTAS” in the search field. For all inquiries on UTAS processes, and for your RFQs, please send to quotes@ptiindustries.com for a prompt reply or quote.

PTI’s commitment to quality includes constantly striving for continuous improvements in meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations on every special processes job order. All of our special process technicians have extensive knowledge and training in parts and equipment to support the manufacturing challenges of the aerospace industry.