Brussels, 12 Nov 2003
French and Italian researchers have developed a faster and less expensive process for the production of the fine aluminium rings used in rocket boosters.
The aerospace industry must currently use two different types of machinery in order to produce the rings: a vertical lathe and a milling machine. The complex production process involves moving a ring from one machine to another, and requires additional equipment to hold the component securely while it is being shaped.
Under the umbrella of the Eureka project FACTORY LAMI, the Franco-Italian team designed a single, multi-function system, which combines the turning, milling and boring processes in one machine, dramatically cutting the time (by around 40 per cent) and the cost involved in the production of rocket components.
'The linear motor is the core of the system,' says Flavio Radice from the lead partner Pietro Carnaghi. 'Not only does it make high acceleration possible, it also solves the mechanical problems encountered with traditional techniques, with the gear box or torque, for example, or when changing from one process to another. We still need to bring down the motor's cost, but technically what we have achieved is a fantastic result.'
While the new technology was originally intended for the aerospace and civil aircraft sectors, interest in the product has made them aware of other possible applications, for example for manufacturing wind power generation equipment, as well as gas and steam turbines.
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