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Hardness testing accuracy increases 60%

Posted on 19 Jun 2020. Edited by: John Hunter. Read 2548 times.
Hardness testing accuracy increases 60%Camberley-based Bowers Group (www.bowersgroup.co.uk) has provided Lincoln-based NMB Minebea UK Ltd (www.nmb-minebea.co.uk) with an Innovatest Falcon 507 Vickers, Knoop & Brinell hardness tester to ensure the accurate testing of components. It has enabled the company to increase its Proficiency Testing Programme (PTP) results from Class 3 to Class 1, deliver a faster turnaround of samples, and dramatically increase the accuracy of the tests carried out.

NMB Minebea UK is a world-leadig manufacturer and supplier of technical bearing products to aerospace and military industries. The company provides a variety of advanced solutions for commercial, military or aerospace use; from landing gear bearings for major aircraft manufacturers to standard rod ends and spherical bearings for numerous applications.

A number of machines are used during the manufacturing process including hydraulic presses, lathes, grinding machines and milling machines.

Jason Woodhouse, NMB Minebea UK laboratory manager, said: “Since investing in the Falcon, the accuracy of our hardness testing has improved by 60%. It is not just accurate, it is really simple and easy to use too.”

The company manufactures a variety of cold-formed parts for aerospace and military, including bearings and landing gear. Producing world-class precision engineered products means that testing and quality assurance is key to its success, and a variety of performance testing is carried out in its dedicated metalogical laboratory.

Precise and accurate hardness measurement is paramount when producing cold-formed performance-critical parts as hardness needs to be accurately measured to prevent fracturing, which can result in components having to be scrapped, as well as damage to the dies and tooling on machines.

Jason Woodhouse continued: “We chose the Falcon 507 because it offered us all the features we needed at the right price. It was the perfect balance for us. Most people in the metallurgy laboratory use the hardness tester anything from once a day, to several times, depending on the demands of the current project.”

Testing for aerospace companies and their supply chains must be carried out in accordance with a PTP, which refer to a series of tests established by a number of aerospace firms including Airbus, Safran, GE, MTU, GKN, Airbus Helicopters and Rolls Royce in order to qualify laboratories around the world on the basis of the ISO 13528:2015 quality standard.

NMB Minebea UK can now test to ASTM and British Standards on the hardness tester, validate paperwork, and export all results to Microsoft Windows. To ensure the hardness tester is as accurate as it can be it is calibrated by an external company every six months.

As part of NMB Minebea’s NADCAP accreditation certain specifications must be met, and daily tests are undertaken to ensure the machine is functioning accurately.

The company also has some dimensional metrology equipment from Bowers Group including three-point bore gauges used for bore measurements, stick MICs and thread MICs.

The Falcon 500 series of hardness testing machines improve conventional hardness testing methods by focusing on the elimination of user-influence on the test results. The unique force-actuator system uses an electronically controlled closed loop system and advanced force sensor technology to achieve absolute accuracy, reliability and repeatability, on each of the forces used for a test.

The testing machine’s Impressions software has a variety of useful features including file storing, test programme setting and storing, image zoom, auto focus, limit settings, conversions to other hardness scales, system setup and (remote) control, pattern testing (CHD/Nht/Rht), and widely contributes to the high reproducibility of test results. Fully automatic image evaluation combined with intuitive operator software results in reduced operator influence on the test results.

In NMB Minebea’s dedicated metallurgical laboratory, staff had previously used an old, manual Vickers hardness tester. Despite having performed well for many years, operators found that readings were beginning to drift and were gradually moving towards being outside of the accepted range. In addition, the old hardness tester made testing a fairly slow process; it was awkward to use and difficult to train people on.