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Engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines uses the LaserControl NT optical measuring system from Blum-Novotest on more than 100 of its machines, in which its process stability aids manufacturing quality.

The LaserControl NT is an optical measuring system for tool setting and tool monitoring.

As well as providing basic tool-breakage control, the LaserControl NT systems capture data such as tool length, radius, wear, cutting-edge bursts and spindle and tool-carrier accuracy at nominal spindle speeds.

The systems compensate for spindle displacement at high speed and can detect and correct tool-clamping errors.

To meet the production engineering demands of aero-engine manufacture, the machining centres at MTU rely on non-contact laser-measuring systems supplied by Blum-Novotest.

MTU Aero Engines currently has more than 100 Blum laser systems in use across the company and around 300 to 350 MTU employees work with LaserControl NT in three-shift operation.

A number of machines are also equipped with contact-touch probes supplied by Blum.

In terms of quality assurance, the Blum systems make a major contribution to the manufacture of all MTU engines.

They include the new GP7000 range of aero engines that the Munich firm produces, taking responsibility for the low-pressure turbine, the intermediate turbine casing and high-pressure turbine components.

The GP7000 range of aero engines is used in the long-haul sector, including scheduled services of the Airbus A380 since August 2008.

A major role in aero-engine manufacture is played by so-called ’blisk machining’.

Blisks save on weight, increase service life, decrease the number of components needed through higher-stage loading and reduces the amount of maintenance required.

The process involves integral rotor construction in which the disk and blade form a one-piece component, rendering blade roots and disk grooves superfluous.

For tool setting and monitoring, MTU deploys LaserControl NT throughout the entire blisk production line.

Blisk facts and figures are impressive: It takes between 15 and 60 hours to make one blisk, depending on the size of the component and the type of machining that is required.

The parts that are produced are worth between 30,000 and 60,000 euro, meaning it is vital to constantly monitor the tools used to machine them.

If there is a problem in the production process because of a faulty, worn or incorrectly fitted tool and the work is scrap, things rapidly get very expensive.

Each component can require the use of 10 different tools, ranging from simple twist drills to expensive special-purpose tools.

At MTU there was the odd occasion when the wrong tool was fitted in error, resulting in substantial losses – but this laser will help ensure such mistakes do not happen again.

Most of the machines equipped with LaserControl no longer require tool-presetting devices.

Some machining centres are operated in parallel, but MTU’s objective is to dispense with tool pre-setters altogether so that when the machines are fitted with new tools the laser will capture the tool data to the nearest micron, directly on the machine.

This will eliminate human error when operators manually enter tool data that has first been logged on the pre-setter, such as keying errors and transposed numbers.

Measuring directly on the machine is more accurate as the data is recorded in the actual clamping situation and at working speed.

All kinds of tools are measured with the laser measuring systems.

The smallest has a diameter of just 1.2mm, while the largest cutter head is currently 250mm.

In addition, MTU has used LaserControl to help solve a problem that occurs in day-to-day practice – this is when, due to long operating hours, machines experience thermal growth, which adversely affects machining quality.

LaserControl compensates for this effect by calibrating between machining steps.

This means that thermal growth in the machine axes or spindle is found by calibration and stored in the controller as an additive zero offset.

Blum-Novotest GmbH is recognized as a developer of leading-edge measurement and testing technology, with some 40 years of experience as partner for the worldwide machine tool, automotive and aircraft industries.

The business develops and produces tactile and optical measuring systems for workpiece measurement and tool setting applications in machine tools. Alongside this, Blum develops and manufactures production line integrated measuring and testing solutions.

In addition to the modern, fast growing manufacturing sites near Ravensburg (Germany, BW) and Willich (Germany, NRW) Blum has sales & service subsidiaries in Bordeaux, Como, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Shanghai.

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