Contract for Airbus surface treatment system

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "Contract for Airbus surface treatment system", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Contract for Airbus surface treatment system

Contract for Airbus surface treatment system

Keywords: USF Wheelabrator-Tilghman, USF'Vacu-Blast, Shot peening

Joint Wheelabrator-Tilghman and Vacu-Blast system will shot peen and remove ferrous decontamination from airframe components.

The USF Surface Preparation Group has secured an order from Aerospace Systems and Technologies Ltd of Consett, Co. Durham, for a purpose-built combined shot peening wheel plant and associated surface decontamination machine, designed jointly by USF Wheelabrator-Tilghman and USF Vacu-Blast.

The automatic system will be used to improve the fatigue life and stress corrosion properties of Airbus airframe components, using steel shot peening, and remove residual ferrous decontamination from component surfaces, prior to further processing and assembly operations. The aluminium alloy components measure up to 18 metres long x 300 mm wide x 300 mm high and are in "I" or "J" section form.

Provision will also be included in the system for the future processing of airframe ribs of more complex profiles and measuring up to a 1,000mm x 700mm cross-section.

The Wheelabrator-Tilghman shot peening plant will incorporate 12 "Ezefit" 305mm diameter wheels which together will deliver the S230 grade steel shot on to the surface profiles to be peened. The components are transported through the peening enclosure on polyurethane-protected powered rollers. After peening, the parts pass through an outlet vestibule fitted with an air curtain to remove residual shot. They then progress on a linking roller conveyor to the Vacu-Blast aluminium oxide abrasive blasting machine for complete ferrous decontamination.

Measuring 7 metres long, with a 4 metre x 2 metre x 1.6 metre blast enclosure, the Vacu-Blast machine is controlled and monitored by a PLC and features two six-nozzle arrays, each attached to a two-axis manipulator arm. The nozzles are configured to ensure precise and complete coverage of the surface area of each profile, for full removal of any ferrous contamination remaining from the first stage peening operation. This is vital in order to protect the integrity of the subsequent production processes.

The Vacu-Blast machine incorporates a high-integrity media recovery systems which delivers spent media to a dedicated power module for cleaning and recycling to the blast nozzles, thereby minimising running costs. Unusable media, dust and debris are directed to a dust collector for safe disposal.

Details available from USF Vacu-Blast. Tel: +44 (0) 1753 526511; Fax: +44 (0) 1753 538093; Website:

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