MicroBlasting Aerospace Components

The manufacture of aerospace components requires a high level of quality to ensure excellent performance, reliability, and endurance.

MicroBlasting, or sandblasting on a micro-scale, is ideal for refining and perfecting intricate geometries, delicate compositions, and small precision parts that must meet strict industry standards. It is a precise, safe, controllable and versatile material removal and surface alteration method that engineers have relied upon for over 50 years.

Across aerospace manufacturing, Comco MicroBlasting systems are used to imrpove surface finishes on parts that are as small as a grain of rice to as large as a basketball.

What Materials Does it Suit?

MicroBlasting is used on a variety of part materials and compositions, thanks in part to the large selection of abrasive media available. Surfaces materials we work with include:

  • Aluminum
  • Ceramic
  • Glass
  • Graphite composites
  • Inconel
  • Invar
  • Nylon
  • PEEK
  • Rubber
  • Ryton
  • Silicon
  • Stainless Steel
  • Teflon
  • Titanium
Cleaning turbine blades

How Precise?

✓ Create a consistent surface finish to a specific Ra (5-150 µ).

✓ Texture to a sharp delineation (0.007″).

✓ Remove coating overspray off turbine blades without affecting part integrity (pictured above).

Comco MicroBlasting systems use very fine abrasive (17.5-350 µ), small nozzles (0.018-0.125″) and a patented abrasive feed that delivers pinpoint accuracy and repeatable results.

Surface Texturing

Enhance the adhesion characteristics for bonding or modify surfaces for cosmetic reasons.

texturing injection mold cavities
  • Bonding HUD optics
  • Connectors
  • Injection mold cavities – texturing the surface of a cavity on a new mold to hide splay lines, flow lines, knit lines, blush marks and other molding flaws
  • Load cells

Selective Cleaning

Remove undesirable substances, thin films or residues from part surfaces.

cleaning thermocouples
  • Thermocouples – removing MgO to expose contacts for bonding on heat-sensing harnesses
  • Circuit boards – conformal coating removal for replacement of failed components
  • Ceramic components – removing metalization
  • Turbine blades – cleaning casting material, laser remelt and coatings from air holes
  • Wire stripping
  • Gyro blocks – removing polishing compound

Precision Deburring

Remove fine burrs on a wide range of parts and geometries—even the most delicate and intricate.

deburring gears
  • Manifolds
  • Gears
  • Fuel splines
  • Mold cavities
  • Fasteners

Controlled Erosion

Erode surfaces a few microns at a time or mill channels and serial numbers.

lens engraving serial numbers
  • Ring bearings – milling channels to control fluid transfer and heat buildup
  • Microfluidics
  • Sensors
  • Ring laser gyros – applying serial numbers to lenses without micro-cracks
  • Cutting composites
  • Thermocouples

Deburring Precision Valves and Manifolds

Precision valves often contain a number of cross-drilled holes. Fine burrs appear where these different bores intersect. These burrs interfere with fluid flow and must be removed. Comco’s line of extended right-angle nozzles reach down inside the main bore and focus the abrasive stream on the burr in the cross-drilled hole.

The challenge of burr removal is compounded by a surface finish specification that optimizes flow characteristics, which means abrasive selection is critical. Sodium bicarbonate is sharp enough to attack the burr, but physically soft enough to avoid texturing the valve. Glass bead in an abrasive stream transfers energy to the burr, breaking it without cutting into the base material.

Deburring manifold

Machining Grooves into Hydrodynamic Seals

Bearing surfaces must run cool to meet the new efficiency requirements in jet engines.  Etching precision grooves or channels into the surface of a seal creates an air bearing. Because seals are made from hard, brittle materials; etching a flow path with a tolerance of 0.5 µ presents a significant challenge.

MicroBlasting, however, is surprisingly well-suited for this requirement, as it provides tight control over particle velocity to accurately control etching depth.  Aluminum oxide, the ideal abrasive for this application, is only slightly softer than diamond and able to cut through these hard surfaces easily.

Comco’s distinctive automated systems are able to monitor the abrasive stream for both quantity and consistency.  These measurements are fed back into the system to keep the rate of etching constant.

Microscopic view of precision etched channels in hydrodynamic seals

Our blog, Micro-Lessons in MicroBlasting, dives deeper into process fundamentals. Gain a greater sense of how to use manual or automated systems to create the ideal surface finish.  

Etching air bearing hydrodynamic seal

Etching Channels to Create an Air Bearing or Hydrodynamic Seal

Learn how automated micro-precision sandblasting can etch channels to a precise and repeatable depth in the surface of an air bearing or hydrodynamic seal. Continue reading →

Read post on creating features to a specific depth control

How to Reliably Create Features of a Specific Depth

Looking for precision depth control? A single pass of the focused abrasive stream from a micro-precision sandblaster can uniformly remove 5 µin (0.127 microns) or less of material. Learn how to create features with varying depths and sharp walls. Continue reading →

Read blog post on calculating stepover

How to Calculate Stepover

Avoid uneven results while texturing or etching parts. Learn what stepover percentage works in most applications. Incl. stepover distance calculator. Continue reading →

The AccuFlo® and ProCenter Plus™

Deburring is easy with our latest micro-abrasive blaster, the AccuFlo, and its ideal companion, the ProCenter Plus.

The AccuFlo is our latest MicroBlaster and it is such a breakthrough in engineering that we had to give it its own name. Evolving out of 50 years of MicroBlasting design and development, the AccuFlo is faster, flows more consistently mixed abrasive and air, and features a more responsive pinch mechanism that its predecessors.

The ProCenter Plus, our combination workstation and dust collection system, is durable, easy to use, and easy to maintain.

What makes this pair ideal for most applications?

  • Comfortable ergonomic design
  • Flexibility- flows a wide range of media
  • Consistent abrasive stream
  • Easy to maintain
  • Mobile
  • Clean- uses HEPA filtration
  • Quiet- sound level is just 68 dBA
  • Cost effective – our best deal for an all-in-one manual system

Sample Parts Testing

Many factors contribute to the best process: the size and type of abrasive, the size and shape of the nozzle, air pressure, blast time and nozzle position. Our Applications Engineers have the tools on-hand to test different variables for you and the experience to know where to begin.

All test procedures and results are documented in a full lab report returned to you alongside the tested sample parts for evaluation.

Check out our blog entry “We Take Samples Seriously” to learn more.

Contact a Comco Sales Team Member today to inquire about having your sample parts tested in our Applications Lab.

Sample part testing

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