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QMT Applications: March 2016
Testing castings for leaks

Tec Systems has provided a suite of customised leak testing systems to a leading supplier of automotive engine components. In order to fulfil the customers' requirements, Tec Systems provided a total of six individual leak testing machines, each designed to suit specific engine components.

To verify the quality of high performance engines, it is necessary to perform accurate leak testing of components and assemblies, the most commonly used method being ‘pressure decay' which has been used for several decades to identify faults in sealing or component integrity.

Using this method, air is injected into the test object which has been sealed to allow a build-up of pressure. The pressure is then monitored over time, any decay of pressure indicating a leak. In this case, it was the high-level testing of the casting integrity that was required.

Tec Systems has established a track record in automated leak testing, using third party leak testing equipment integrated into the production lines of many clients. In particular, Tec Systems has a strong relationship with Ateq, a well-known supplier of differential pressure decay leak testing equipment.

After assessing the requirements of the customer, Tec Systems provided the six machines based around a modular design. Each machine has a fabricated metal base frame, providing a rigid support structure for mounting of the various machine elements.

All the machines provided are manually loaded by an operator and wherever the parts are too heavy to be lifted, the operator is assisted by appropriate lifting equipment. To simplify operation and eliminate human error, the operator uses a handheld scanner to scan the barcode on the component or assembly to identify and record the product variant which is to be tested.

All the orifices on the component under test are sealed by O-rings on the bespoke tooling which are closed onto the part using a combination of pneumatic cylinders and manual clamps.

Once the component is detected as ‘in place' and the variant is verified by the barcode reader, the automated leak testing process is initiated by the operator pressing the start button. On completion of the test sequence, the result is displayed as a green or red light (for pass or fail) as well as being displayed on the HMI (Human Machine Interface), located in front of the machine. Parts are then unloaded and new parts loaded by the operator.

Each machine is customised to suit one or more products, the machine construction providing a combination of guarding and safety light curtains to ensure that the operator is well-protected during the testing sequence.

Tec Systems is an experienced manufacturer of laser processing systems, robotic automation and automated leak testing systems based in the Midlands, United Kingdom. Standard and bespoke systems are offered with a full service from design through manufacture, a large installed base worldwide is supported by a dedicated team of engineers.

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