Luminator Technology Group is a family of brands that manufacture passenger information signs, lighting, and display solutions for bus, rail, and aerospace industries. Based in Plano, Texas, Luminator serves a broad customer base in North America and throughout the world.
Until recently, such sophisticated quality automation processes and capabilities required big investments in manufacturing systems beyond the reach of smaller manufacturers. However, current trends have brought commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions into the SME market.
Each day, facilities across the globe turn to nondestructive testing (NDT) to verify the reliability of parts or materials without causing damage. One of the most popular of these methods is magnetic particle inspection (MPI)—a form of NDT that uses magnetism to detect surface and near-surface defects, cracks, seams or stress points in ferromagnetic materials before parts and materials are placed into service.
A major milestone in Digital NDT was reached this February— the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E07.11 subcommittee published the new ASTM standard E3147-18 on DICONDE Interoperability. This new standard should help further establish DICONDE in Digital NDT environments and increase the benefits of its use.
On April 20, three days after a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 experienced an engine failure due to a fractured fan blade, resulting in the death of a passenger, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive that requires operators of CFM56-7B engines with more than 30,000 flight cycles to perform a one-time ultrasonic inspection of all 24 fan blades to detect cracking.
The aerospace industry is increasingly adopting metal additive manufacturing for both flight safety-critical aircraft parts and non-critical flight parts. The approach offers a shorter development cycle, which means products can be developed quicker and design changes easily incorporated.
I was a group quality manager for an engineering company that made aero-engine parts. As part of the culture change program, I gave a presentation on examples of aircraft crashes and causes. A poorly machined blisk that caused an in-flight turbine failure, an oil-pipe with a thin wall in one area that cracked and leaked causing a fire, and an incident I personally saw, the crash of a military helicopter in Germany which was due to a series of quality failures.