Innovative masking technology

MTU Aero Engines

The use of Dymax SpeedMask, available in the UK from adhesives specialist Intertronics, has enabled German aircraft engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines AG to reduce its masking process time from four hours down to just 14 minutes.

The new high-precision, automated set up has met near zero tolerance in application, while eliminating an inventory of thousands of silicone and metal parts previously used as masks.

In the past, MTU masked its parts manually before subjecting them to intense processes such as thermal coating or shot blasting. This involved affixing adhesive tapes, silicone rings, masks, or metal covers in a process that required both time and care. However, growing demand and increasingly complex shapes made it challenging for MTU to deliver precise and cost-effective temporary protection for sensitive component surfaces.

The team has since combined robotic arms with Dymax SpeedMask for a fully-automated, high-precision process, in which the liquid SpeedMask is applied onto their intricate parts and then cured with UV light in seconds. Once surface treatment is complete, SpeedMask can be removed without leaving any residue. As well as increasing speed and reducing production costs, the new application methodology has improved the sustainability of the process by decreasing the error rate to nearly zero.

“Even with the most experienced operators, the manual application of masking tapes, rings and covers can be tedious and labour-intensive,” explained Matt Baseley, technical sales executive at Intertronics. “With this often comes inconsistent results that, for critical and complex parts like blisks, can mean the difference between being airworthy or being scrap.

“SpeedMask offers return on investment predominantly through its speed of application and removal, and the fact that rework arising from leakage or residue around tapes isn’t required,” he added Baseley. “Therefore, it not only saves labour around application and removal, but it also potentially saves a whole step in the process.

“What MTU have put together, between their automated system and their choice of material, is really savvy engineering. It combines several best-in-class technologies to create something that will significantly benefit their productivity for years to come. Congratulations to MTU for achieving such substantial process improvement.”

Dymax SpeedMask Temporary Masking UV Resins can replace tape, wax, lacquers and fixtures to offer reliable protection against most metal finishing processing environments. They can be applied and cured in seconds to reduce labour, reworking, and scrap. They are also environmentally- and worker-friendly, and easy to automate.

The adhesion of SpeedMask resins both seals and protects machined, ground, or polished surfaces during tumbling, peening, abrading or cleaning processes. Grinding and peening masks eliminate external damage to edges and surfaces and internal cavity foreign object debris (FOD). The resins also seal cavity openings and prevent contamination from acid, alkaline and plating solutions, as well as the debris from air plasma spray, HVOF, peening and grit blasting.

To achieve the tightest tolerances in SpeedMask applications, Intertronics recommends the preeflow eco-PEN or ecoSPRAY for volumetric dispensing or spray valves. These technologies are highly repeatable, have an accuracy of ±1%, >99% of the time, are viscosity independent and easily automated.

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