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Advanced Engineering 2020

NEC, Birmingham(B40 1NT)

04/11/2020 - 05/11/2020

The UK's largest annual advanced manufacturing trade show, Advanced Engineering is your opportunity to (more)

Drives & Controls Exhibition

NEC, Birmingham(B40 1NT)

25/01/2021 - 27/01/2021

The show brings together key suppliers of state-of-the-art equipment representing the multi-tasking culture (more)

Blade protection kits keep helicopters in the air

Blade protection kits keep helicopters in the air Although he rotor blades of helicopters like the Westland Lynx are made of advanced composite materials, in some environments they can be damaged by airborne particles. In the worst desert conditions, helicopter blades last as little as 20 flying hours before the damage becomes so severe that they have to be removed and repaired, a process that can take up to 160 hours. Now an advanced, moulded polyurethane film from 3M is being used to protect the blades in service. Helicopter blades are a particularly challenging application for protective film technology. As the blades spin, centripetal force is constantly trying to throw off anything that is stuck to them. For the aircraft to fly well, the blades must be perfectly balanced, both in terms of their mass distribution and the aerodynamic properties. Conditions along the leading edge of the blade vary dramatically. Finally, modern composite blades like those on the Lynx have a complex shape that makes the application of simple pieces of straight tape difficult. Andy Marks, Adhesives Technical Support Specialist at 3M explains. "To cope with the centripetal forces, we used a high strength acrylic adhesive with an extremely high resistance to shear. That way we could make sure the film didn’t start to shift in service. We took moulds from the blade surface and made a tool exactly the same shape. Then we thermoformed the tape on the tool so that the ‘boots’ fit the blade shape perfectly." All the helicopter engineer has to do is strip off the backing and apply them in the right place.

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