Portable laser peening system developed for aircraft maintenance

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Laser peening can extend the life of jet engine blades and other aircraft structures. (Image: Reuters)

LSP Technologies and Airbus have together developed a portable laser peening system that is currently undergoing testing and evaluation at Airbus' maintenance and repair facilities in Toulouse France.

The ‘Leopard Peening System’ was developed to meet requirements for portability, fibre optic laser beam delivery, automation controls, and custom tooling.

The flexibility of the fibre optic beam delivery and custom tools enables the system to laser peen hard-to-reach areas of an aircraft.

The Leopard Peening System will be used to extend fatigue life by inhibiting crack initiation and propagation caused by cyclic vibrational stresses. 

According to the partners, the system is a breakthrough in laser peening technology that will advance the use of laser peening – originally proven to extend the life of jet engine blades – to aircraft structures not currently being laser peened.

'Our partnership with Airbus has led to the development of the first-ever mobile laser peening system to peen complex aircraft structures that will ultimately lead to safer, longer-lasting structures,' said Dr Jeff Dulaney, LSP Technologies' chairman and CEO. 'The successful completion of the Leopard System project greatly expands the potential application for laser peening in advanced manufacturing and maintenance operations.'

Related: Laser peening to treat aluminium plates on naval combat ships

Laser Peening involves the application of a high-power, pulsed laser beam on the surface of metal components in a highly controlled pattern. The resulting stress waves generated by the laser beam modify the stress profile of the metal to prevent fatigue cracking due to foreign object damage and other forms of metal fatigue and failure. Laser peening can be used to extend the fatigue life of metal parts far beyond the useful life of untreated metal parts.

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