Water-jet cutting process optimization of work pieces from aircraft materials

Machine-building Engineering and Machine Science

Mechanical Engineering Technology


Verchenko A. V.1*, Kurskaya I. A.2**, Chigrinets E. G.2***, Maksimov D. V.1****, Geiko Y. S.1*****

1. Rostvertol Helicopters, 5, Novatorov st., Rostov-on-Don, 344038, Russia
2. Don State Technical University, DSTU, 1, Gagarin square, Rostov-on-Don, 344003, Russia

*e-mail: alex290292@mail.ru
**e-mail: ikurskaya@donstu.ru
***e-mail: egchigrinets@gmail.com
****e-mail: d.maximov@rostvert.ru
*****e-mail: y.geiko@rostvert.ru


Single and small batch production is predominant in parts production for aerospace industry. Stamped blanks and castings manufacturing with small batches is not cost-effective due to the high cost of tooling. Thus, forgings or billet plates made of thick plates that are close to the part’s shape are used in increasing frequency as work pieces.

One of the most up-to-date and promising method of cutting and obtaining finished parts is the method of water-jet cutting. It ensures wide ranges of processed material thickness, the ability to cut almost any material, high performance, obtaining high quality cutting surface, the ability to process complex geometry. All this makes this method of processing the most popular in conditions of modern aircraft building, shipbuilding, etc. The absence of thermal impacts on the material, low cutting force, the erosional nature of the destruction do not contribute to the development of internal stresses in the cut zone.

The process of water-jet cutting is complex, poorly understood, which result is affected by many technological parameters such as cutting pressure, nozzle feed, grain, hardness, abrasive consumption, distance from nozzle to the surface being processed, physical and mechanical characteristics of the material being processed. The design complexity of the cutting technological process consists in selection of optimal cutting conditions, which will ensure the specified quality of the part surface layer at the minimum cost. The production technologist faces the difficulty of determining not only the cutting surface hardness, but the size of the smooth and wavy cut zone as well.

goal of the work consists in improving the efficiency of the waterjet cutting process by optimizing processing modes based on the development of an adequate theoretical model for the formation of surface roughness at different depths of the cut section.

To achieve this goal the following tasks were solved:

  1. Theoretical and experimental studies of the cut surface roughness profile formation depending on the processing parameters;

  2. Theoretical studies of the wavy cut zone formation depending on the technological parameters of the process;

  3. Development of methods for predicting the quality of the cut surface;

  4. Development of methods for optimizing the process of water-jet cutting.

The paper presents the results of theoretical and experimental studies of the surface roughness profile formation while water jet cutting of various materials, such as 30HGSA steel, hardened 30HGSA steel, D16T aluminum alloy, fiberglass-titanium composite material. A theoretical model for the roughness profile formation of the cut surface was obtained, which shows the dependence of roughness on the main technological parameters of the process (nozzle feed, particle radius, mixture pressure, etc.) depending on the depth measurement of the cut surface roughness. It reflects thereby the distribution of the ratio of the smooth and wavy cut zone. Statistical processing of the studies results was performed using MathCad. The experimental studies result was the obtained dependencies of the number of the particles’ useful encounters with a material on the magnitude of the nozzle feed, abrasive consumption, and section depth. One and two-factor regression equations describe the effect of abrasive consumption, nozzle feed, thickness of the material being processed, section depth on the cut surface roughness.

A two-factor regression model for the formation of the roughness profile of the cut from the nozzle feed rate and the roughness measurement depth while polymeric composite materials (PCM) processing of the fiberglass-titanium type was obtained. The material layering and shagging while cutting were not detected, the cut quality was high. To assess the water impact while cutting fiberglass-based PCM, an analysis was performed using differential scanning calorimetry, which resulted in the conclusion that the waterjet cutting technology can be used for PCM processing.

Based on the theoretical and experimental studies results, a for designing and optimizing the technological processes of water-jet cutting technique has been developed, with account for the specified cut surface roughness ensuring and obtaining the minimum cutting costs.

The optimization of the technological process of water-jet cutting of the “Bracket” part of the Mi-28 helicopter was performed, which resulted in a 2.5 times reduction in labor intensity, a cost cut of 843.51 rubles, which allowed the company to save 1286 rubles while each part production. The technique for the water-jet cutting technological process optimization application was undergone industrial tests at the Rostverol plant.

According to the technical requirements for rotor blade manufacturing, as well as the results obtained by the authors, the possibility of hydro-abrasive cutting application for removing the technological allowance in the basis part of Mi-28 helicopter main rotor spar as an alternative to the rough milling was demonstrated. Application of cutting feed within the 160-240 mm / min range min reduces the labor intensity by 80% with the required quality indicators.

At present, measures for the suggested technology introduction into batch production are under development at the PJSC Rosvertol Blade plant.


waterjet cutting, abrasive, feed, cut surface roughness, cutting speed, nozzle feed, abrasive grit, optimization, microchips, cutting zones, cutting jet pressure, optimization criteria


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