AFM process_Extude_HoneExtrude Hone invented abrasive flow machining (AFM) in 1960, and since then, we have been improving and adapting the process to the shifting needs and regulations of the auto, medical, energy, and aerospace industries. Two changes in particular have helped the AFM process become a critical component in the manufacturing of helicopter engines.

Turbomeca (Safran Group) is the world’s leading manufacturer of gas turbine engines for civil helicopters. They have relied on Extrude Hone’s AFM process to build better engines since 1982, when they began using the process to polish centrifugal impellers. In the more than 30 years since, Turbomeca has watched Extrude Hone’s AFM machines evolve to offer more control, more variety, and more longevity.

One improvement the AFM machine has seen is the addition of temperature control of the abrasive media. The implementation of a temperature management system not only gave manufacturers more control to fine-tune the process for various materials and configurations, but it improved the longevity of the abrasive flow material, which saves money and time.

Extrude Hone also introduced more flow control since the 1980s. Precise flow control yields more consistent results time after time as well as increasing in the efficiency of the AFM machine. Flow control made it possible to effectively use the AFM process on a wider variety of engine and turbine parts.

Turbomeca bought their first AFM machine in 1982 to polish centrifugal impellers. As the needs and expectations of the aerospace industry have changed, Extrude Hone’s AFM machines have changed, too. Turbomeca still uses AFM to polish its centrifugal impellers, but now, thanks to ongoing improvements in the process, they also use it to calibrate the throttle area on turbine nozzles and they’re running trials on other uses of the AFM process. Turbomeca now uses abrasive flow machining to hone and polish between two and five components on every helicopter engine it produces.

Researchers at Extrude Hone continue to look at new ways to improve both our AFM machines and the flow media to provide more accurate, repeatable, and controllable results in more and more industries. We are poised to be an important part of the aerospace industry as manufacturers shift focus from aircraft to spacecraft.