Composite Technology enjoys room for improvement

Helicopter rotor blade repairer, Composite Technology, has seen productivity levels lift off after purchasing a bespoke blastroom from Wheelabrator.

Company Profile

Andover-based Composite Technology was established in 1991 and serves customers in many countries around the world, reaching from Greenland to Africa, the Far East and former Soviet block.

It holds approvals as an OEM repair station for Sikorsky, Bell Helicopter Trextron, Agusta, Schweizer and MD Helicopters. It is also approved by Airbus and Boeing to repair composite panels and fairings.

Challenges and Solution

The 10m x 2.4m x 2.4m blastroom, which Composite Technology started using just two months ago, is being employed to remove paint and other coatings from rotor blades during the reconditioning process.

Chris Satchwell, production manager at Composite Technology, said: “The new blastroom speeds up the process of stripping paints from aluminium as well as composite substrates, giving us better quality, and a more consistent finish.

“We previously performed this function with orbital sanding machines, but these were quite slow and laborious so absorbed a lot of man-hours. Where it could take up to a whole day to strip one blade, the blastroom finishes the job in a little over two hours. We’re extremely pleased with our purchase and after specialist training have already seen our production efficiency increase.

At up to 10 metres in length, rotor blades are made of lightweight materials, making them too long and fragile for traditional blast machines.

Result

The externally sited blastroom, which uses plastic abrasive, is a fully mobile system, including equipment housing and compressor in one unit without foundation work.

The customer’s anticipated growth required a solution that could be easily transferred with the site. A silenced dust extractor fan set allows the room to be placed within three metres of the outside wall of the premises.

Rob Goodwin, UK field sales manager at Wheelabrator Group, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to help Composite Technology improve the efficiency of its operation with a new blastroom.

“As well as increasing efficiency by providing faster and better results, Composite Technology can now allocate the man-hours previously consumed by this arduous task to more value added activities.

“Blastrooms are becoming increasingly popular in the UK as they are bespoke to each customers individual needs so offer greater flexibility and versatility.”