Growth in the Aerospace Industry

After a few rollercoaster years, in 2016, the aerospace industry across the United States and the world looks to be showing strong growth, and return to the power it was in previous decades. This is great news for companies, including us at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, involved in the manufacture of hot gas path aviation turbine engine components.

Faster, Farther, More Fuel-Efficient

With the global economy fairly stabilized after a few years of ups and downs, the aerospace industry continues to work towards developing and producing next-generation aircraft. With many fleets across the globe aging, or using older designs, there is a need for newer airframes that can go faster, carry more over a long distance, but that also get better fuel efficiency than current models.

Factors Driving Growth

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has forecasted that 2016 will be the year that the aerospace industry returns to positive growth, after a slight decline in 2015. In the coming year there are a number of factors that are expected to spur this growth on, including:

  • Relatively stable growth in gross domestic product throughout the world, meaning there is more spending capability.
  • Lower crude oil and other commodity prices, reducing cost of manufacture and operation.
  • Continued increase in passenger travel demands, which necessitate development and construction of next-generation commercial aircraft.
  • Global security threats have driven an increase in defense budgets worldwide, with an expected increase in aerospace demands.

Next Generation Jobs

The next-generation planes will need workers with next-generation skills for research and development – these are not the low-paying, low-skill jobs that so many people think of when they hear the word “manufacturing.” In fact, these are jobs that pay well above the national average, and rely more on math and science skills than one’s ability to turn a wrench. The jobs that are being created by the growth in the aerospace industry are jobs that will power the economy into the future. Some of these jobs are in new, emerging occupations that have not even been part of manufacturing before

Here at Hi-Tek, we have been providing manufacturing solutions and comprehensive support of hot gas path component production for gas turbine engine manufacturers, so growth in the aerospace industry means there is great potential for our company to grow. We look forward to expanding capabilities and tackling the growth head-on, to continue to provide the highest standard in aircraft turbine engine components.

Delivery of First New Generation GE Power HA.02 Gas Turbine

General Electric Power and Water have recently delivered the first HA.02 unit to the Exelon Wolf Hollow site in Granbury, Texas.   Groundbreaking for the new power generating station was held on July 9, 2015.  The new CCGT (combined-cycle gas turbine) will provide an additional 1,000 megawatts to the existing 704 megawatt natural gas power plant.  The new unit is to be one of the most environmentally friendly and efficient CCGTs in the state and nation. It utilizes GE Power’s most advanced gas turbine technology and an air cooling system, which eliminates the use of water to cool the unit.

HA.02 unit

The HA.02 unit is seen being positioned at the facility.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. worked to develop the manufacturing of several critical components for the HA.02 hot gas path engine section.  The components include stage 1 and stage 2 vanes, baffles, and near flow path seals, and were developed with an extremely fast track New Product Introduction (NPI).  Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s engineering, quality, and manufacturing team developed the processing of these critical hot gas path components in the shortest time frame in the company’s history.  Utilizing the latest developed technology in laser, CBN grinding, fast hole EDM machining, and in-house braze and heat treat was the key to Hi-Tek’s success.

“It was a collaborative effort,” stated Barry Nehls, Sales and Marketing Manager.  “The General Electric Power and Water need dates for qualified, finished components was critical to the engine assembly and test schedules. Working with the GE team from engineering, sourcing, quality, and production required constant detailed communication in order to achieve our common goals.”

The HA.02 gas turbine power generation turbine is the first of two to be installed at the Wolf Hollow facility.  An additional 1,000 megawatt CCGT is being constructed at Exelon’s existing Colorado Bend Generating Station in Wharton, Texas, approximately 60 miles outside of Houston.  Both sites are expected to achieve commercial operation in 2017.  Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. is pleased to be a GE Power and Water global supply chain partner to provide manufactured components for this exciting new HA.02 engine program.

The Name in Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is Hi-Tek!

EDM, an extraordinary technology, alternatively referred to as “spark machining” or “wire burning”, is a manufacturing process in which innumerable kinds of shapes are obtained utilizing electrical discharges or, what laypeople might call, sparks. In this seemingly magical process, material is removed from the piece being worked by a series of rapidly repeating current discharges between two electrodes that are separated by a dielectric liquid,  which is basically an electrical insulator in liquid form that can be polarized when an electric field is applied.

Electric Discharge Machining is surprisingly quite simple to explain when broken down:  An electrical spark is initiated between an electrode and the piece that is being shaped. The spark that is visibly emitted produces extreme heat that melts almost anything it contacts. This electrical spark is highly controlled and localized so that only the surface of the material being worked is affected. The liquid medium serves to cool and flush away any eroded metal particles eventually leaving behind a finished product.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s state-of-the-art electrical discharge machining services offer over 100 EDM machines that perform a wide variety of processes from the most staggeringly complex to simple, one-off operations. Hi-Tek’s equipment list consists of in-house designed and built fast hole machines, multi-axis CNC sinker machines, 3-axis sinker machines, a variety of EDM plunge equipment, and wire EDM machines. Holes can be produced as small as 0.001” and hold the true position to +/- 0.0005” and diameter tolerance to +/- 0.0002”.

The electrode manufacturing capabilities at Hi-Tek can produce stamped copper, brass tubes and rods, graphite, and tungsten rod electrodes and process holes in various forms such as cooling, round, shaped, pin seal, tip and non-line of sight, as well as non-hole features like slots, grooves, pockets, and notches. In other words, Hi-Tek is a one-stop shop!

To learn more about Hi-Tek’s cutting-edge electrical discharge machining (EDM) services, call today and discover why Hi-Tek lives up to its name.