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Turbine Parts Supplier Reduces Reverse Engineering Time

Wed, 12/12/2012 - 12:36pm
NVision

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Turbine parts supplier Power Plant Services is using an NVision HandHeld laser scanner to reduce by 60% the time required to reverse engineer turbine blades. In the past it took the Melrose Park, Illinois company 15 hours to produce a 3D computer aided design (CAD) file from a customer’s turbine blade. But that has now changed. “By switching to NVision’s HandHeld laser scanner we can produce an accurate CAD file in only six hours, which makes it possible to deliver a new blade to our customer one full day faster than was possible in the past,” said Chad Fisher, Project Manager for Power Plant Services. That time saving can result in significant cost savings for the company’s customers.

Power Plant Services engineers and manufacturers high-performance alternatives for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) turbine parts and systems and supplies a wide array of other parts and services to the power generation, pulp and paper, petroleum refining and steel industries. The company produces more than 10,000 parts per year and has performed repairs on major turbine components for more than 40 utility plants. Delivery time is critical because customers often place orders after power generation equipment has broken down, which can sometimes cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in lost revenue.

“Previously we used a contact probe to measure part elevations point by point in different cross-sections of the airfoil and entered the measurements in solid modeling software,” Fisher said. “Then we created lofts between the elevations. We felt that laser scanning could improve on this process by capturing the entire profile of the airfoil and eliminating the need for measuring elevations and lofting. We looked at several different models and selected the NVision Hand-Held scanner both because of its portability and because NVision provides a complete solution including both hardware and software so we only have to work with a single organization for support.”

The NVision Handheld scanner is a powerful portable scanning device that is capable of capturing 3D geometry from objects of almost any size or shape. The scanner is attached to a mechanical arm that moves about the object, freeing the user to capture data rapidly with a high degree of resolution and accuracy. As a part is inspected, the scanner generates a point cloud consisting of millions points each with x,y,z coordinates and i,j,k vectors. Integrated software that comes with the scanner is used to convert the point cloud to an STL polygon and an optional tripod provides complete portability in the field. Intuitive software allows real-time rendering, full model editing, polygon reduction, and data output to all standard 3D packages.

“The HandHeld scanner substantially reduces the time required to reverse engineer airfoils and other parts,” Fisher said. “Since we began using it we save about nine hours per part and we are also more confident in the results because we get many more points of data than in the past. In many cases we are able to save our customers large amounts of money by getting their turbines up and running a day earlier than was possible in the past. Another advantage is that the portability of the HandHeld scanner means that we can now go to our customer’s facility to reverse engineer parts that are too big for them to ship to us.”

For more information visit www.nvision3d.com.

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