Compressor blade

Forcing pressure

The aero engine compressors consists of thousands of blades, each between 25 – 200 mm. As modern compressor blade designs create thinner and more twisted airfoils, the bar for precision continues to rise.

Even the tiniest imperfection on the surface or a variation in the profile of a compressor blade or vane can adversely effect air flow, impair blade performance and lower engine efficiency. Global production of these parts is in millions per year, as is the number returning for MRO, so having the right measurement and inspection solutions is critical to a smooth production process.


Quality Gates along the Compressor Blade Production Process

Building in quality is a vital part of the compressor blade manufacturing process. With millions of parts in production each year each with very short cycle times, there could soon be a lot of non-conformance without careful montioring in place within your process. The ZEISS quality solutions enable our aerospace customers to put the right piece of equipment on the shopfloor at the point of manufacture and provide real time feedback with or software tools where customers need it most.

Stock cylindrical metal. Colored to show grain size and direction of metal domains with an image from a microscope to the top left of the cylinder.

Forging Process

It's amazing the impact modern tools and analsis can have on traditional processes like forging to really make step changes in productivity and levels of right-first-time.

The challenge

The die for the forging process is of paramount importance to the production of the compressor blade. Ensuring the die and subsequent blades are conforming is where ZEISS technologies come in.

Our solution

  • ZEISS technologies are great for digitally capturing and analysing in 2D and 3D the conformity of the blades and the life and wear of the die.
Initial Forging of the hipstem from stock material. Voids in blue to show possible defects in forging process. Magnified voids above the stem.

Milling Rough Shape

Given there can be some variability from the forging, the rough milling of the blade prior to final blade machining is a critical part of the process.

The challenge

The rough miling is a fast process in harsh conditions leaving a similar challenge for the measurement and inspection.

Our solution

  • Within the ZEISS technology range there are shop floor equipment designed exactly to meet the needs of speed and handle challenging environments on the shop floor.
Forged stem shown to show flashing form the forging process. Would be as received part from the supplier.

Final Machining

The airfoil edges with the right radii for performance, the root form for fit to the compressor disc and airfoil tip to ensure no leakage of compressed gas.

The challenge

The final machining is a fast process matched with small tolerances on many of the critical features. The type of process which demands a high-end solution.

Our solution

  • The ZEISS PRISMO fortis is the go-to machine to meet the challenges of the final machined compressor blade.
Stem further processed. Image above shows microscope image of debris on filter. From cleaning processed part.


Regulatory and OEM requirements like AS9102 or AS13003 are necessary, stringent and comprehensive to fulfil.

The challenge

The compressor blade has an extensive set of validation requirements to demonstrate airworthiness.

Our solution

  • High-accuracy tactile, optical and microscopy solutions to fulfil thousands of characteristics necessary to validate
  • ZEISS Quality Suite helps to compile the results in an effective way
  • Specific software like Blade Inspect Pro enables to qualify every characteristic on part drawings or other standards in an efficient manner

Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO)

Once the engine is in operation, it will undergo regular inspection and maintenance. As airlines aim to increase the intervals between each maintenance visit, modern 3D metrology can help MRO shops to extend the life of the compressor blades, or reduce the time required for each service visit.

Defects on compressor blades

Numerous types of defects can befall a compressor blade. Defects can appear in different blade zones (A, B. C), on different sides of the airfoil (convex or concave), and on different types of edges (leading or trailing). Defects include undersize chord, reduced thickness and roughening of blade surface, but also problems such as

  • Dimension faults
  • Corrosion and wear on the blade
  • Dents, nicks on the blade surface
  • Gross deformation and creep compared to the blade's original condition

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