Metal additive manufacturing machine supplier Optomec has launched a new tool which calculates the potential cost savings of using automated laser cladding equipment in the repair of gas turbine components.
Developed specifically for Optomec by laser processing expert Terry VanderWert PE, the tool aims to help customers using Optomec’s Huffman branded laser cladding technology to understand the payback associated with moving to an automated process for gas turbine maintenance and repair operations (MRO). Building on research conducted by the New Mexico-based machine manufacturer on automated laser cladding in aviation component repair, the tool uses customer-specific data to generate a full report detailing the ROI, including cost per part, payback period, net present value and internal rate of return, of automated laser cladding versus the customer’s traditional process, which is typically manual TIG welding.
“Despite the fact that many MROs have moved to automated processes, the majority of turbine and compressor blade repair is still done manually today,” said Mr. Mike Dean, Marketing Director at Optomec. “In our work with customers, we recognised that a wide range of factors contribute to building the business case for automated laser cladding and that is why we felt the need to develop this tool. With our ROI calculator we can help more MROs understand the real value and impact automation can have. In addition to the cost savings, there are huge benefits in terms of higher repeatability and superior metallurgy from automated laser cladding.”
Back in May, Optomec announced the addition of integrated robotic automation for its Huffman line of machines, suited to the high-volume repair of turbine blades and vanes. Pairing its laser cladding technology with a compact, six-axis industrial robot, it allows manufacturers to automate the loading and unloading of parts into the chuck of the laser cladder to deliver faster cycle times by working from trays that contain a dozen or more components.
Optomec has more than 100 laser cladding systems installed worldwide which are said to be used by most major manufacturers of aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines and leveraged in the repair of more than 10 million components. Optomec’s additive portfolio celebrated its 500th machine delivery at the end of last year, accomplished with a number of high profile users of its LENS and Aerosol Jet technology including Samsung, Lockheed, Panasonic, Siemens, Honeywell, GE, NASA, and the US Navy, Army and Air Force.