Mass Finishing for the Aerospace Industry
Plenty of industries rely on fabricated parts, but few require the precision and flawless design of aerospace components. In this industry, mass finishing solutions play a vital role in creating the durable, intricate pieces that complex aircraft depend on. They can also offer manufacturing benefits like efficiency, consistency and reduced waste.
Let’s take a closer look at mass finishing equipment for the aerospace industry and how it affects manufacturing.
What Is Mass Finishing?
Finishing refers to a wide range of tasks used to improve the surface of a part, such as applying coatings, polishing metal, removing defects or adding metal plating. Virtually all metal parts go through this process, as do many non-metal parts, like plastics and ceramics. While finishing methods can vary widely, the end goal is typically to ensure the part can better perform its job, meet specifications and take on a better appearance.
In aerospace, finishing is generally aimed at making the parts smooth and polished and removing any surface inconsistencies from the fabrication process. For example, metal casting or machining might leave seams or burrs on the part that could hurt performance and create a sloppy appearance. Finishing solutions can remove those seams and burrs while polishing up the edges and making the part shine.
When various finishing systems come together or support many parts, we call the process mass finishing. It’s commonly used in manufacturing, especially where complex parts with tight tolerances are involved. Mass finishing helps deliver repeatable, dependable results to many parts.
How Is Mass Finishing Used for Aerospace Manufacturing?
In the aerospace industry, the stakes tend to be higher, with complicated machinery, strict regulations and severe consequences for malfunctions.
Aerospace equipment must stand up to rough atmospheric conditions, evolve to meet changing emissions and efficiency standards and offer a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on board. None of that can happen without reliable components, and aircraft require many of them. Even a small plane could have millions of parts, all of which must work together cohesively to mitigate risk as much as possible.
Mass finishing helps these components attach to each other and improve performance. If any one of them fails or jams up, it can lead to catastrophic results. Mass finishing helps avoid these repercussions by removing surface defects and creating a completely smooth surface, so parts can function as intended. Blades keep spinning, coatings stay protective and nozzles keep pumping.
Some examples of parts that benefit from mass finishing include:
- Components for engines
- Hydraulic systems
- Landing gear assemblies
- Fuel nozzles
- Rotors and turbine blades
- Valves and seats
- Electrical components
Finishing methods can accomplish a range of goals simultaneously, like deburring, polishing, descaling and edge-breaking.
Mass Finishing Equipment Solutions for the Aerospace Industry
The list of finishing equipment is extensive and can cover diverse elements of a part’s appearance and performance. Some types of mass finishing equipment solutions include:
- Deburring: Deburring equipment removes burrs left behind by machining processes. Machines can remove these small imperfections with vibrations, grinding, polishing or using electrochemical processes. For example, a vibratory bowl uses tumbling media in a chamber with the part. The media helps “file” down edges and remove burrs, even if it needs to enter small, intricate areas.
- Edge-breaking: Edge-breaking removes sharp edges from a part, usually by replacing them with a chamfer or a smooth radius. Certain deburring tools can break edges, along with grinding and sanding.
- Descaling: Parts washer systems can break up surface deposits left on metal surfaces to help create a smoother surface or prepare the part for finishing.
- Coating preparation: Mass finishing can help modify the characteristics of the surface to readily accept other coatings, including liquid coatings like paint, or electrochemical coatings such as anodization and passivation.
- Blasting: Blasting equipment applies high-pressure media to the surface, knocking any loose material off for a smoother surface.
- Metal grinding or brushing: Some solutions use abrasive brushes or another metal to smooth out the surface and remove flaws.
- Surface finishes: Mass finishing equipment can apply surface finishes, too. These finishes include powder coating, anodization and polishing to suit performance requirements and appearance demands.
The Benefits of Aerospace Metal Finishing
Metal finishing for aerospace components can help you meet an array of goals. Some of the advantages of parts finishing equipment for the aerospace industry include:
- Corrosion resistance: Corrosion forms in several ways, and many finishing methods can help prevent it. You might apply protective coatings, smooth away corrosion-friendly surfaces or electroplate the metal.
- Improved durability: Rough and inconsistent surfaces can make it easier for a part to get damaged in the future, and protective coatings can improve its resistance to wear, abrasion, chemical damage and other threats. Finishing can help increase the life span of a part and make it more reliable for the demands of aircraft.
- Reduced friction: With super-smooth edges, parts can move with less friction for smooth operation and low resistance.
- Improved appearance: Both internal and external parts can benefit from a clean, professional appearance. Along with smooth, polished surfaces, you can add a matte or textured finish and colors through techniques like painting, powder coating or metal plating.
- More consistency: Surface defects and imperfections can vary from part to part, but mass finishing ensures a consistently smooth edge that can pass quality assurance tests.
- Better coating adherence: Coating preparation allows you to work the surface, so it readily accepts coatings like paint and helps them adhere more strongly.
- Easier cleaning: Some coatings help reduce the adhesion of contaminants and protect against damaging cleaning chemicals. Finishes can also be used to create surfaces that look better after cleaning, like a passenger-facing metal panel that resists fingerprints and doesn’t show streaks from cleaners.
- Conductivity: Many metal parts need to conduct electricity, and surface finishes can help them conduct electricity more effectively by helping them connect to each other.
- Reduced turnaround times: Compared to individual finishing processes, mass finishing can drastically improve the speed of manufacturing processes.
Whether your goals center around the product or the manufacturing process, mass finishing equipment can make a considerable difference.
Choose New England Sales for Aerospace Finishing Equipment
As a vital part of the aerospace industry, mass finishing solutions should come from a dependable partner. At New England Sales, we offer comprehensive services, such as customized consultations, a vast product selection and ongoing support, including maintenance and repairs.
We bring local expertise to businesses across the New England area. We can visit your facility and help implement the ideal solution to meet your unique needs, from space limitations to budgetary concerns.
To learn more, reach out to us today and request a quote, set up a consultation or chat with a team member.