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Wing-top sander, helicopter blade prep system

Temple Allen has developed a pneumatic, low-vibration sanding tool for wing-top environments, as well as a helicopter blade prep system.

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Posted on: 3/25/2014
Source: CompositesWorld

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Working with a European launch customer, Temple Allen (Rockville, Md., USA) has developed a pneumatic, low-vibration sanding tool for wing-top sanding operations to solve the problem — in production and MRO environments — of worker stress and vibration injuries resulting from crawling along wings on hands and knees. The new system operates like a floor buffer, offering more ergonomic and less fatiguing operation with lightweight equipment that is easily carried up scaffolding to wing surfaces. The equipment incorporates ergonomic handles, dual-inline orbital sanding heads, vibration-absorbing boom and an optional fluid delivery system. Like Temple Allen’s EMMA systems, its production wing-top sanders will offer interchangeable end effectors to accommodate different sanding pad sizes and orbits for task-specific requirements, as well as an integrated dust collection system that turns on with the sander and routes particulates to HEPA-rated 3M Clean Sanding Filter Bags. Temple Allen's wing-top sander is patent pending and has been CE-certified for the European market.

A second solution is for surface preparation of helicopter blades, which must be deglossed (mold release removal), feathered (fairing of surface filler) and abraded (activation of surface energy) in advance of painting and coating operations. Temple Allen’s development is a modification of how its EMMA system has been used to increase efficiency in wind blade operations. Helicopter blades are often a challenge to sand during maintenance and repair because the paint thickness varies along the surface (especially considering the frequency of field repairs) and copper mesh lightning strike protection (LSP) is typically immediately beneath the bottom paint layer. For example, when trying to remove three to five layers of paint, it is easy to dip a 6-inch/152.4-mm sander on edge just a bit too much and blow through the single paint layer in the adjacent area, digging into and damaging the LSP. With the modified EMMA system, the sander is always flat for uniform unit pressure and paint layer removal can be reliably controlled by dwell time without guessing how hard to push. This is especially helpful because the topcoat (particularly paints used in some military applications) is hard enough to survive extreme operating conditions. The EMMA blade sanders are said to not only improve finish quality, but enable different operators to generate the same results.

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