Next Generation Inspection System (NGIS) III

NCMS Project #: 150501

Problem: The project targets the need to replace manual operations with automated dimensional measurement, and machining for the repair of compressor airfoils.  The project requires high-speed scanning of airfoil surfaces and converting the gathered points into a data model capable of generating a CNC program resulting in greater accuracy than 0.005”.  NGIS III utilizes new technology that resulted from previous industrial collaborations into a pilot program at the NADEP Cherry Point.  The industry-led pilot will demonstrate significant cost and throughput savings in the repair of compressor blades with technology that is applicable to all maintenance activities supporting turbine engines.  Key to meeting the project objectives is reducing the time required for current inspection practices, and the repair process, while achieving increasing accuracy in measurements.  The current Cherry Point repair process for compressor airfoils requires application of weld material on damaged edges, and then hand grinding to remove excess weld material.  Airfoils returned from the field are slightly distorted, requiring creation of individual data models for each airfoil to support computer controlled processing.  The NGIS machining system will incorporate on-the-machine inspection featuring advanced interchangeable sensors, an open architecture control, and programmable software with demonstrated performance ready for turnkey installation at NADEP Cherry Point.

Benefit: Deliverables will include a self-sufficient, multi-axis grinding machining system for near-net shape blending of airfoil shapes, requiring use of coolants, on repaired impellers and individual blades.  The system will achieve an average 60% reduction at Cherry Point in labor hours and cycle times for the sample parts in the benching and hand grinding time from the current times.  Improved quality, and reduction in scrapped parts, will be gained through a computer controlled disciplined process replacing manual highly variable operations.

Solution/Approach: The project will deliver a production-ready machine tool, after acceptance testing by Cherry Point engineers at MRI in Cleveland, Ohio.

Impact on Warfighter: Hardware repairs achieved within shorter cycles with improved quality to provide greater reliability along with improved availability.  Pipeline requirements for replacement compressor airfoils will be reduced.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (NADEP Cherry Point)
  • U.S. Navy (NFPC) (observer)
  • U.S. Air Force (OC-ALC) (observer)

Industry Participation:

  • Manufacturing Resources Inc. (MRI)
  • Applied Precision, Inc. (API)
  • Solar Turbines Group
  • NCMS

Final Report