Design engineers in the aerospace industry are constantly challenged to improve fit and function of components used in commercial and military aircraft. Parts used in these aircraft must withstand high-stress, corrosive conditions with long-term use. They also must meet highly demanding cycle life specifications.
Engineers working in the aerospace industry use electropolishing on a regular basis to improve the fit and function of components made from various materials including stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium. Whether these parts are stamped or machined, they will almost certainly contain surface anomalies. These surface defects in the form of fissures or micro-cracks can drastically shorten the cycle life of these parts, resulting in premature failure of flight-critical components. This is even more crucial when components used in aircraft must withstand high levels of stress and corrosive environments.
In addition to maintaining a long cycle life and withstanding high stress, parts used in commercial aircraft must meet stringent standards and regulations set forth by the U.S Federal Aviation Administration. These regulations establish guidelines for the manufacturing process, surface finishing, and assembly of various types of aircraft.
Electropolishing, typically the last operation in the metal finishing process, is a metal removal process that offers tight controls over material removal from part to part, within a lot, as well as from one order to another. The process does not just improve surface finish. By removing the superficial exterior layer, electropolishing effectively eliminates imbedded particulate, contaminants, and micro-cracks that can otherwise become initiation sites for corrosion.
Improving fatigue life is key for design engineers working in the aerospace industry. Increasing cycle life for components used in aerospace applications is critical for preventing premature part failures. In many cases, adding the electropolishing process has enabled parts to pass fatigue testing while eliminating costly redesigns and delays.