2 minute read
AeroThermal delivers world first to global aerospace customer
British engineering firm AeroThermal has announced that it designed, manufactured, delivered and installed a new, state-of-the-art eight metre oven to a global aerospace supplier, the first of its type in the world.
What makes the oven unique is the entire side-on opening, with a door running the full eight metre width, whilst at the same time maintaining an exceptionally high level of temperature uniformity.
The oven, which is 1.75m high, enables two components to be loaded at one time with an innovative loading mechanism. A trolley carries the components into the oven, with a gap of half a metre between the external tracks and the internal fixturing. This gap was required to enable the doors to close. The trolley then cantilevers across the gap, thanks in part to the unique design of its axels.
An additional challenge was the temperature conformity and accuracy needed by the customer. The maximum temperature difference across the part was specified to be no greater than +/- 2.5oC, to a maximum temperature of 175oC to be maintained for a number of hours to facilitate the heat treatment of highly specialised CNC machined aluminium components.
AeroThermal delivered an oven with an accuracy of better than +/- 2oC, exceeding the client’s requirements. It achieved this using a multizone heating system on the top and bottom, with four different banks of heater cassettes and four fans, to ensure temperature uniformity. The cassettes were sheathed electrical heaters and produce 240kW.
The oven is made of a steel structural frame and steel panelling. It is also highly insulated, to the extent that it is possible to touch the vast majority of the oven wall at a temperature marginally above that of ambient whilst the oven is in operation. This has the added benefit that energy usage is minimised.
AeroThermal also designed, and built in-house, a plc control system, with two controllers; one for the air temperature; one for the parts’ temperatures. Though not needed for this application, it is possible to accelerate the air temperature very quickly.
When the manufacturing process is complete, the oven’s temperature is reduced by using a power-assisted ambient cooling system, through external ducts.
It also contains an interior isolator pull-string alarm, and lights and windows to ensure safety. It was delivered and installed in one piece to the customer.
Ian Toll of AeroThermal said: “This was a challenge. We had to design the oven, with a unique side-loading mechanism, from a blank sheet of paper. On top of this it needed to operate within a very tight accuracy in temperature. By working in partnership with the client, we were able to deliver and install an effective and efficient oven as part of a busy production line. We got there!”
AeroThermal produces a wide and varied range of thermal processing equipment, the majority of which is custom designed and manufactured as being part of the company’s specialism.