|The image above shows a turbine engine blade during processing using the LPB method.|
An exciting engineering process developed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center uses residual stress in design and is providing a practical solution to fatigue problems for critical components of medical implants. The innovative technology is already making these devices more durable, and its innovation has been further validated with a prestigious R&D 100 Award.
Low Plasticity Burnishing (LPB) offers a method of metal improvement that provides deep, stable surface compressive residual stresses to improve damage tolerance and extend the life of the material. The method is quite useful for critical components used in aerospace and in medical devices. In many cases, its application can change the entire model for design and maintenance of such critical components, yet uses common computed numerically controlled (CNC) coding and can be easily integrated into any normal machining process. In short, LPB adds safety and fatigue strength to critical parts without changing the material or physical design of the component.
Tested and proven by NASA, the military, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for aircraft and ground-based turbines and aging aircraft, LPB already is saving millions of taxpayer dollars and making structural metallic components safer for passengers, pilots, workers, soldiers and everyday people. The method is also enabling improved strength and safety for medical devices, helping to improve lives of patients.
These important life-changing advantages were recognized with the nod from R&D Magazine and the R&D 100 Awards. Considered the “Oscars of Innovation,” the awards have identified revolutionary technologies newly introduced to the market since 1963. The technology and Glenn Research Center will be recognized at an awards ceremony in November.
–By Nannette Stangle-Castor, Ph.D.