QMT Features: November 2008
Blade inspection time is reduced 83% at Toshiba GE Turbine Components
Toshiba GE Turbine Components (TGTC) has reduced the time required to inspect and measure steam turbine blades from 280 minutes to 45 minutes

Toshiba GE Turbine Components (TGTC) has reduced the time required to inspect and measure steam turbine blades from 280 minutes to 45 minutes by using the MAXOS non-contact measurement system, a product of Steintek GmbH and NVision, Inc. in North America.

The coordinate measuring machine (CMM) used in the past to inspect the blades was not only slow but was unable to access hard-to-reach areas such as dovetail hooks and fillets. The MAXOS uses five axes to reach every point on the blades and also generates specific and accurate measurements of critical areas. Resulting measurements are reported instantly and the need for additional manual inspection is eliminated.

"The MAXOS optical scanner provides the best possible accuracy, eliminates the need for matt coating, and integrates easily with our engineering and production processes," said Tomio Kubota, president of TGTC.
TGTC is a joint venture that combines the production expertise of Toshiba and General Electric to produce large blades ranging from 26 to 52 inches (660 to 1320 mm) for steam turbines at cutting-edge manufacturing facilities. The company's annual production of blades is sufficient to generate the equivalent of eight to ten gigawatts of electricity. TGTC is sited within Toshiba's Works in Yokohama, Japan and produces long blades. The MAXOS optical scanner was delivered to the Yokohama plant in February 2008 and passed acceptance testing in March 2008.

In the past, it took longer to inspect blades than it took to make them. A turbine bucket is comprised of an airfoil and a root. The long blades built at Yokohama have mid-span geometry that provides support for the midsection of the airfoil.
The complex geometry of these blades means that many cross-sections must be examined. The conventional 3-D CMM used in the past to inspect the blades was unable to reach many points on the root. Also many fillet radii are inaccessible to the CMM or too small to be measured by a touch probe ball.

The MAXOS uses a proprietary non-contact probe consisting of a concentrated light that collects individual points at a rate of 100 per second, many times faster than a CMM. Unlike laser or white light fringe scanners, the MAXOS can inspect turbine blades without having to apply a matt coating that introduces dimensional inaccuracy. The MAXOS provides accuracy of +/- 0.0004" and a resolution between measured points down to 0.0002" on this project. The system can be provided with a resolution as low as 0.0001".

The MAXOS software is configured with an overall best fit of the measured geometry to allow a part with some error to fit within the overall tolerance envelope of the reference data. Win3DS Blade inspection software is configured to give fast results and different kind of evaluations on mid-span, fillets, gaps and airfoils. Different best-fits are available, including Gauss and Chebyshev.

In this application, the MAXOS was configured with a 5-axis horizontal arm with three linear axes and two rotary axes. One rotary axis is for the sensor and the other for positioning the blade. The rotary axes are servo controlled and are not indexed. This configuration makes it possible to measure every part of the blade even when it is mounted vertically. Vertical mounting is preferred for the long blades because it prevents them from bending under their own weight. The MAXOS does not require highly accurate fixturing of the blade because it scans the roots as an alignment procedure.

E-mail: sales@nvision3d.com



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