Ensuring Aircraft Blade Integrity

The integrity of the turbine blades in the engine of an aircraft is crucial for its safe operation. Aircraft engine blades are subject to a range of stresses during the operation cycle of the engine, such as rapid heating, continuous high temperature, and cooling. As a result, it is essential to ensure that this repetitive cycle does not affect the structural integrity of the turbine blades. Failure of any single blade can affect other blades and ultimately result in total engine failure.

Standard Method of Testing Turbine Blades

The standard means of testing potential turbine blade designs is through the use of a heat-controlled chamber. This method allows technicians to test different materials and geometries for optimal performance. In addition, heat-controlled testing can provide the data required for failure analysis as well as the life expectancy of the proposed design.

Technicians can apply a thermal load known as the ramp/soak period to a turbine blade in order to simulate its operation in an engine. This procedure typically involves heating the test chamber to various heat profiles at a specified rate. Following this, a constant temperature is maintained for a specified amount of time and allowed to cool. The blade may then undergo inspection for stress cracks, which could cause the blade to fail.

The main challenge of testing turbine blades is the fact that they need to be subjected to repetitive thermal cycling. Without this, the experimental requirement for extensive simulation of the damage factors of the turbine blade will not be satisfied.

OMEGA’s Universal Digital Benchtop Controller

In the aerospace industry, test chambers are often customized based on the specific configuration and size of the turbine blade being inspected. Because of this, portability is an essential feature of test equipment. In addition, aerospace engineers and technicians must be able to monitor the controller units remotely in order to adapt to changing test conditions.

In quality lab environments, OMEGA Engineering’s PLATINUM™ Series Universal Digital Benchtop Controller can provide an ideal solution to these requirements. It combines complete portability, remote monitoring using the internet and enhanced ramp/soak programmability.

The enhanced ramp/soak capability includes up to 99 programs with 16 bidirectional ramps, including ramp/soak events as well as remote start. In addition, this unit also allows individual ramp/soak profiles to be linked together by an aerospace technician to create a continuous cycling profile.

The controller is equipped with dual programmable three-color displays, which can indicate both setpoint and real-time temperatures and can be easily read from anywhere in the test lab. Additional connections, including an internal 5 A solid-state relay control output; fuse, power, and input connections; as well as an optional Ethernet port that can be accessed from the rear panel of the Universal Digital Benchtop Controller.

The portability of the OMEGA temperature controller gives it a flexibility that can save time and money. Technicians can simply move the unit to a different test chamber, or to a different position in the test lab. It also comes with OMEGA Software, embedded firmware which can serve web pages over the internet or an Ethernet LAN.

The software also allows technicians to monitor and control test using a web browser. They are then able to make modifications during testing, for example, changing setpoints or alarm points and turning the heater on and off.

Other OMEGA Solutions

PLATINUM™ Series controllers make the collection, reporting, and analysis of data as easy to carry out outside of the office as they are in a quality lab. The controllers can also be used by technicians to configure the optimal test parameters, and ensure that the turbine blade is exposed to the required thermal cycling.

OMEGA’s thermocouple probes are able to accurately measure the temperature of a test chamber to ensure the integrity of the testing. Temperature versus time data can then be recorded by other OMEGA solutions, for example, the USB Data Acquisition Module, Touch Screen Data Logger, and OMEGA’s Wireless Bluetooth® Transmitters.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by OMEGA Engineering Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit OMEGA Engineering Ltd.

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