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Protecting and masking delicate precision metalwork during media blasting

How to protect and mask delicate precision metalwork during media blasting processes in aerospace applications

One aspect of the work we do at AFAC is to be problem solvers on behalf of our clients. Of course, more often than not a client knows exactly which product they need and our role is simply to fulfill the order. But occasionally a customer will come to us and explain a particular problem they have—and in these cases it’s down to us to configure a solution.

We recently had a situation like this that certainly required some ingenuity on our part to solve.

Our client in this case was a well-known manufacturer of aircraft engines, low-emission power systems for ships, road and rail vehicles and electrical generators. The company approached AFAC because they were facing a particular problem in the maintenance of their aircraft engines. They had discovered that when some of the engines would come in for maintenance, there would be paint peeling off them in certain areas. Given that these are still new engines that would be going out to very prestigious clients, the company decided that they needed to address the problem.

One task of the maintenance team is to strip the coatings from the affected parts and then recoat them. They use a media blast to strip away the original coating, but they were finding the powder they were using for the media blasting was distorting the metalwork. This was making it impossible to satisfactorily refit the pieces to the engines.

The company came to us and explained the issue. We came up with a solid mask to reinforce the metalwork from behind while it was being blasted. As a result the integrity of the shape was maintained and the metalwork remained in a condition suitable for recoating and refitting to the engines, representing a significant money saving for the manufacturer.