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Rapid Reverse Engineering

16/10/2019 10:54:28
 
 
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Sulzer reverse-engineers compressor component with 40% cost saving

Many industrial processes rely on compressors for a host of essential tasks, from powering machinery to squeezing industrial gases for storage and transportation. When one of its main compressors failed, a company in the Philippines faced high costs and the prospect of a long wait for a critical replacement part. That’s when it turned to Sulzer for help.

Modern centrifugal compressors are high-performance machines. Used in the most demanding industrial applications, their job is to deliver air or other gases at high volumes and high pressures into storage, transportation pipework or to downstream machinery. The machines themselves can be very large indeed, consuming hundreds of kW of power, but the critical component at their heart is a precision-engineered high-speed impeller, which can be just a few cm in diameter.

For one company in the Philippines, damage to this vital part was to be the cause of a prolonged period of expensive disruption. When a large compressor failed, investigations showed that the machine had been operating out of balance for some time. The resulting vibrations had caused such extensive damage to the machine’s 7.4-inch (188 mm) diameter impeller that the part was beyond repair.

With the original manufacturer of the compressor unable to offer a timely or cost-effective replacement, the company approached rotating equipment specialists at Sulzer for a solution.

Digital modelling and measurement

The damaged impeller and shaft were removed from the casing and shipped to Sulzer’s facility in Indonesia. Once there, the local engineering team set about collecting all the data needed to recreate the part. Using a combination of laser scanning technology and conventional measurements, the team collected digital and dimensional inspection data to build a complete 3D representation of the impeller.

The data was then used by Sulzer experts to build a 3D solid model of the replacement component. The damage to the impeller was extensive, so the Sulzer team had few complete surfaces they could use as a basis for their model. By applying engineering analysis to the geometry of the broken part however, they were able to “undo” the damage digitally and determine the precise geometry of the original component.

While the experts were working on the geometry, their colleagues were continuing their own work to reverse-engineer the component. They used x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis to establish the exact chemical composition of the impeller. That allowed Sulzer to source the same alloy in order to manufacture the replacement. Finally, the team used zebra analysis to determine the surface continuity quality in the 3D model that would affect the surface finish required for the new part during the machining process.

Machining expertise

With the model, material and relevant manufacturing information now available, it was time for Sulzer’s CNC machining specialists to step in. A manufacturing team in Houston produced the replacement part, which was machined from a single block using five-axis milling techniques.

After surface finishing, the part was spin tested at high speed in Houston to check for any imbalance before shipment to Indonesia. The Indonesian team assembled and balanced the new impeller on the original shaft before returning it to the customer for installation in the machine.

“This project shows Sulzer’s global capabilities at their best,” says Hepy Hanipa, Head of Turbo Services South East Asia. “This was a relatively small, but highly complex component and its performance was critical to our customer’s operations. Close cooperation between Sulzer teams working on opposite sides of the world allowed us to deliver a high-quality solution on a timescale that met the customer’s needs whilst delivering a 40% cost saving.”

For more information visit: www.sulzer.com/purwakarta-service-center

Image Captions:

Image 1: Laser scanning offers a quick and precise method of data acquisition.

Image 2: Final dimension checks ensured a perfect fit when the impeller shaft was reinstalled.

Image 3: The complex impeller geometry was recreated using expertise from across the world.

About Sulzer:

Sulzer's core strengths are flow control and applicators. We specialize in pumping solutions and services for rotating equipment, as well as separation, mixing and application technology. Sulzer provides cutting-edge maintenance and repair solutions for turbines, compressors, pumps, motors and generators dedicated to increasing customers’ life-cycle cost effectiveness. Sulzer is a service specialist that is renowned for its technology-based solutions, fast execution and its expertise in complex maintenance projects. With a network of over 100 service sites around the world we are at our customers’ doorstep. Sulzer has been headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland, since 1834. In 2018, we achieved sales of roughly CHF 3.4 billion with around 15’500 employees. Our shares are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SIX: SUN)www.sulzer.com

The image(s) distributed with this press release may only be used to accompany this copy, and are subject to copyright. Please contact DMA Europa if you wish to license the image for further use.

Editor Contact

DMA Europa Ltd. : Philip Howe
Tel: +44 (0)1562 751436 Fax: +44 (0)1562 748315
Web: www.dmaeuropa.com
Email: philip@dmaeuropa.com

Company Contact

Sulzer : Claudia Proeger, Marketing and Communications, Rotating Equipment Services, Sulzer Management Ltd
Tel: +41 (0)52 262 34 44 Fax: +41 (0)52 262 00 45
Web: www.sulzer.com
Email: claudia.proeger@sulzer.com

 
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