The requirement for lightweight and strong components has become a key requirement for the aerospace industry. In doing so manufacturers can easily reduce the weight of the aircraft across a range of components from turbine blades to landing gears and wing spars to fasteners.
During the hardening of these components scale is often built up on the surface which needs to be removed by surface finishing. One such method is abrasive blasting of metallic components and there are many types from bead blasting to dry blasting and shot blasting to wet (or vapour) blasting. These mechanical processes use an abrasive media mixed with compressed air and, in the case of wet blasting, water to create an abrasive environment in which the components being treated can have their surface properties altered.
In the case of titanium parts wet abrasive blasting is becoming a standard process for many manufacturers as many of the risks associated with titanium are removed. With standard dry or grit blasting the titanium particles are removed from the component and are exposed to the cabinet air. However there is an explosive mix if a statically charged abrasive particle makes contact with one of the loose titanium dust particles; a mix which creates many health and safety issue and one that can also bring a lot more cost to the process from the added requirement for ATEX filtration. The addition of water to the wet blasting process means any static is removed from the particles and the lose titanium dust is dampened and unable to move freely in the blast cabinet.
The wet blast process also offers much better surface finishes as the water allows the abrasive to flow over the components. This lubricating effect means scale is removed much more uniformly and more complex shapes can more easily be processed. As a result of the wet blast process users will achieve much lower Ra values and a cleaner surface that makes inspection much easier.
To date Vapormatt have sold several wet blasting machines for the descaling of titanium parts from both their manual and automatic range. Most recently was a hybrid Leopard machine that offered a barrel for automatic processing of smaller components, a radial turntable for automatic processing of larger parts such as spars and a manual station for the very large components.
If you would like to discuss a wet blast application we have a team of specialist’s available to answer your questions alternatively you can download our free white paper “how to specify wet blasting for aerospace” to learn more about the wet blast process and its uses in the aerospace industry.