Laser Ablation of Turbine Engine Vanes

At Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we produced the high nickel alloy turbine engine vane shown here, which features an elaborate pattern of metering holes designed to optimize performance efficiency. Hot gas path components inside turbines, such as this one, rely on thermal-barrier coatings to allow sustained operation at elevated temperatures. The newest and most economical production model for turbine vanes, direct through coating drilling, involves applying the thermal barrier coating prior to drilling the diffuser and metering holes. With our proficiency in laser ablation technology, we can clear the top layer of the thermal barrier coating in the precise hole shape and pattern to allow for fast hole EDM drilling of the cooling holes.

This process requires a sophisticated level of laser programming to remove only the microscopically thin top layer while leaving the conductive bond coating layer in place. Our 5-axis laser enables us to manipulate the beam head to ablate the coating and create clean diffuser shapes without causing any ancillary delamination or damage to the thermal barrier coating. We perform extensive in-process measurement and inspection to ensure the accuracy of the shapes and the true hole position. Once the top layer of the coating is ablated, we drill the metering holes using fast EDM technology, which allows us to accurately drill deep holes with contoured openings in tough materials at high speed.

We use this combination of laser ablation and fast hole EDM drilling in the manufacture of turbine vanes for multiple engine sets used in power generation. Production also involves 5-axis CNC creep feed and CBN grinding and pulsed EDM to create the seal slots and notches. We also carry out extensive airflow testing, document all of the measurement data, and use non-destructive test methods to confirm surfaces are free from defects. These turbine vanes exceed the strict quality standards established for hot gas path engine components.

To learn more about this project or our laser ablation capabilities, contact us directly.

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Laser Albation Highlights

Product Name
Laser Ablation
Product Description
Involves the removal of TBC (thermal barrier coating) from hot gas path components in power generation turbine engines such as vanes. Shaping the diffuser with removal down to the bond coating allows the metering hole to then be drilled utilizing fast hole EDM process.
Capabilities Applied/Processes
TBC scrub or removal via 5-Axis CNC laser

Fast hole electrical discharge machining for drilling the metering hole for precise cooling air flows
Equipment Used to Manufacture Part
5-Axis CNC Laser machine
Material Used
High nickel alloy turbine engine vane with TBC coating.
Material Finish
Diffuser holes and final metering holes.
Industry for Use
Power generation gas turbine engines.
In Process Testing/Inspection Performed
Diffuser shape as well as true position.
Multiple engine sets.
Delivery/Turnaround Time
Three to four week cycle time dependent upon the number of cooling holes required.