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Vacu-Blast 'self-build' plastic media blastroom
Vacu-Blast "self-build" plastic media blastroom
A specialist in the repair and overhaul of airframe structures, Bellhouse Hartwell & Co. of Westhoughton, Lancashire, has recently built its own abrasive blastroom for the plastic media stripping (PMS) of paint from aircraft components during refurbishment work. The process was previously subcontracted.
Based on a Vacu-Blast "Vacu-Pack" self-contained abrasive blasting power pack, the self-build" blastroom has already enabled the company to ensure closer control of quality and has streamlined throughput. In the longer term, it will pay for itself and cut operating overheads, by eliminating the cost of packaging and transporting components to and from subcontractors. The risk of damage during transit has also been minimised.
John Clarke, Paint Cell Manager at Bellhouse Hartwell & Co., checks an aircraft panel with a surface roughness meter following plastic media paint stripping in the company's self-built PMS blastroom
The company used wet chemical paint stripping in-house prior to deciding to change to subcontracted plastic media stripping a change prompted by the inherent environmental and operator "unfriendliness" of wet stripping and the increasing cost and inconvenience of wet effluent disposal.
Its new in-house 7.5m × 7.5m × 3.5m high PMS blastroom has aluminium clad walls and is contained within an existing building. Access for even the largest airframe panels is via a 7m × 3m roller shutter door. The Vacu-Blast "PBA08-2" Vacu-Pack power pack feeds plastic media to the manually operated blast nozzle, and used media is recovered via a series of floor hoppers for collection and recycling. Mil-Spec 30/40 grade media is used, in line with the latest aerospace PMS operating standards.
Bellhouse Hartwell is MoD and CAA approved and understand that it is the only company in its field to enjoy full approval for the PMS process from British Aerospace. Typical parts stripped include aircraft doors, access panels, wing leading edges and other wing and structural parts, prior to thorough inspection, repair and repainting. Work is ongoing from customers like the MoD, on components from such "workhorse" aircraft as Nimrods, VC10s and Canberras.
Bellhouse Hartwell prides itself on its quality standards (the company operates to ISO 9002 and JAR 145/CAA) and has studied the PMS process in depth in order to achieve the most cost-effective and efficient operating procedures. This involved a series of tests to analyse the results using different abrasive blast pressures, nozzle distances and angles, and media grades the blasting effect being measured highly accurately by means of a Surtronic surface roughness meter. This has led to the compilation of a detailed operating manual which helps to ensure that operators produce consistent results.
Bellhouse Hartwell & Co. is part of the Hampsons Industries group of companies, and also undertakes the manufacture of replacement airframe and other aerospace components in stainless steel and aluminium and titanium alloys. The company has comprehensive manufacturing and finishing facilities which include fusion, seam and spot welding, metal spinning, pressing and forming equipment, Alocrom treatment and painting lines.
As well as enabling users to construct their own blastroom at minimal cost, by converting to a modern, high-efficiency Vacu-Blast "Vacu-Pack" power-pack, operators of ageing blastrooms can achieve significant cost savings by eliminating blast media wastage. The units can incorporate automatic blast media recovery, regrading and recycling, come in a range of capacities and can operate with all types of media.
In addition, all the other modular elements required to build a blastroom of any size are supplied under Vacu-Blast's "Self-Build" programme allowing customers to select the right package of components to suit their particular needs. This includes the "Waffle-Floor" pneumatic media recovery system, as well as simple "Multi-Hopper" recovery floors, together with hoses, blast nozzles and acoustically insulated doors, wall and roof panels. Technical support, commissioning, operator training and back-up maintenance support are all available if required.
Details from Vacu-Blast Ltd, Woodson House, Ajax Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 4DJ. Tel: +44 (0) 1753 526511; Fax: +44 (0) 1753 538093.