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Farnborough AIRSHOW 2016

Some pictures from our visit to the Farnborough International Airshow this week.

Typhoon engine - rear view

Typhoon engine – rear view

Rolls Royce Trent XWB

Rolls Royce Trent XWB

Rolls Royce Trent XWB

Rolls Royce Trent XWB






F35 Lighting Cockpit

F35 Lighting Cockpit





Benefits of Fast Hole Drilling

The Benefits of Fast Hole Drilling

Engineering solutions that deliver drilling results at speed with a high degree of accuracy are important to a wide range of specialist industries nowadays. Central to this is Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) which allows manufacturers to cut and drill intricate shapes that would not be possible with traditional machinery.

For industries such as aerospace and energy, creating tight tolerance holes in difficult materials such as turbines has been key to creating better energy efficiency and performance in recent years. One key area is Fast Hole Drilling using EDM, which has significant benefits in these kinds of industries because of its speed and high degree of accuracy.

What is Fast Hole Drilling (FHD)?

FHD is a form of Electrical Discharge Machining that can handle highly specific drilling jobs at speed. Basically, it produces high temperatures that melt and vaporise materials to form a hole. When this is carefully directed it can create holes in a variety of materials with pin point accuracy to a great depth.

For awkward surfaces that have curves or angles, the FHD process does involve the kind of pressure exertion which could make drilling difficult making it the perfect solution for these kinds of materials. Fast Hole Drilling also has low depth to diameter ratios which are also very useful.

How is FHD Better Than Other Methods of Drilling?

  • In certain circumstances, Fast Hole Drilling works as a good alternative to acid electrolytic techniques such as Shaped Tube Electrolytic Machining or STEM. This is especially the case in the creation of drill holes for parts such as aerofoils.
  • Fast Hole Drilling is one of the primary methods of creating holes in conductive high tech materials including titanium, carbide and hastalloy.
  • It’s ideal for curved, angled and spherical services, both hard and soft materials, and can produce small tight tolerance holes in a variety of materials.

What Industries is FHD Used For?

Fast Hole Drilling is beneficial in a variety of industries where small, precise holes are needed, often in traditionally difficult to machine materials. The drilling speed for a FHD can be around 1 millimetre per second and can the process can drill down much deeper than alternative STEM processes producing holes with a diameter of just 0.3 mm.

That’s why it is ideal for the aerospace industry where it can be used on range of components including turbine blades. Machines such as aircraft require air to circulate over components so that overheating doesn’t occur. Creating these small holes accurately and quickly has always been a big challenge to manufacturers. What Fast Hole Drilling does is make this process possible with fast drilling rates for a range of materials.

It’s not just the aerospace industry that benefits from FHD. Industrial gas turbines need similar machining to make them more efficient and to prolong the life of a particular component. EDM Fast Hole Drilling is advancing rapidly with the ability to make ever smaller, tight tolerance holes that are needed in engines, turbines and hydraulic components as well as industries including medicine, mining and marine equipment where intricate drilling is required.

Have you got a project that you think could benefit from FHD?

Please complete the quick enquiry form and we will get one of our FHD experts to contact you.

Teenagers fail to link technology and engineers

ELE provides Turbine Blade machining services to its customers and we are always looking on how we can attract the next generation of Engineers.

This article appears on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers website

Research from Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering shows UK teenagers are keen on tech but not so keen on difficult engineering degrees

Research from the QE Prize for Engineering has highlighted the gap between teenager’s perceptions of technology, and awareness of the role engineers play in its development.

According to the survey by the QE Prize for Engineering, 85% of 16-17 year olds are interested in technology such as smartphones and computers, yet only 21% are interested in a career as an engineer.

The figures for 16-17 year olds were released as the government launched this year’s National Apprenticeship Week with a drive to promote the value of apprentices to companies.

The QE Prize survey results, which compares perceptions of engineering in the UK against those in other countries, are from the Create the Future report. Around a thousand people were questioned from ten countries for the report.

Although UK teenagers’ interest outstrips that of young people in Germany, Japan and South Korea, specific interest in engineering falls below all the other countries surveyed.

Sir Christopher Snowden, chairman of the QE Prize judging panel and vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton said: “We need to do more to educate people on the role engineering plays in technology and help young people understand that technology is a product of engineering.

“The challenge facing the engineering community is to shift the love of tech to a love of engineering. There is no silver bullet solution to this issue, but if we work together as parents, teachers, companies, institutions and even governments, then we will see a change in attitudes and debunk the myths surrounding our profession.”

According to the QE Prize, the report shows the complex attitudes young people have towards engineering and their chances of breaking into the profession. Half of the UK teenagers questioned were optimistic that engineering can address issues such as depleting energy resources in in the next 20 years.

However, around 30% of potential engineers were put off the career as they felt an engineering degree was too hard, too expensive and that they lacked adequate funding for training.

GE and Alstom – a shared vision

GE acquired the power and grid business of the engineering company Alstom on Monday, creating a new global industrial powerhouse. The ink on the deal is still fresh, but it isn’t the first time the two companies have met. In fact, they both sprung from the same roots.

GE came to be in 1892, when New York financier J.P. Morgan organized a merger of equals between Thomas Edison’s Edison General Electric Company and Elihu Thomson’s Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form GE. Thomson-Houston’s top executive, Charles A. Coffin, became GE’s first president.

Albumen photograph print of inventor and electrical prioneer Elihu Thomson. Thomson's early work with dynamos, arc lamps, and alternating-current power made him one of the top inventors of the late 19th century. His Thomson-Houston company merged with the Edison General Electric Company in 1892 to form General Electric.

Like Edison, Thomson was a tinkerer and inventor from an early age. “Having worked, at eleven years of age and on, with electrical apparatus, generally of my own construction, it was natural that I should have acquired an intense interest in all advances in electrical science and its applications,” Thomson wrote in a letter. His interest was so intense, in fact, that his name still survives – albeit in a slightly altered form – as the last three letters in Alstom’s name.

A65011 Thomson Houston Central Station, Boston 1884057

Even before the merger, both Edison and Thomson were keen on exporting their products but were running into legal barriers. “In the case of foreign companies notably the French Company…everything without exception must be manufactured in France so as to conform to the French patent law,” the Edison Bulletin reported about Edison’s French subsidiary in June 1882.

To overcome the opposition, Thomson-Houston incorporated in France a group with the ungainly name of Companie Francaise de L’Exploitation des Procedes Thomson-Houston (CFTH) and in 1893 GE gave it “exclusive rights in all lines of electrical products and systems in France,” according to GE’s historical business review.

463997 Thomson Houston plant 1895 or 1898

In 1928, CFTH combined with France’s Sociéte Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques to create Alstom – or Alsthom, as it was then known – to become a major builder of power plant and other heavy technology.

The business was headquartered in Belfort, France. In 1959, GE gave Alstom rights to manufacture gas turbines there, and then bought back the business in 1998.

200511 Paris Orleans Railway Station, 1903

GE still makes turbines in Belfort, including the 9HA, aka “Harriet”, the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine.

Thomson was born in England in 1853 but moved to America as a boy. When he was 11, he became so fascinated with electricity that he built an electrical machine out of a wine bottle. “I got my first view of electric sparks from that machine, my first knowledge of electricity from that machine,” Thomson told a biographer.

After graduation from high school, he taught science and became a professor at the age of 23. In 1880, he and his high school colleague Edwin Houston started a business selling arc lamp systems. They were so successful that a decade later their company rivaled Edison and Westinghouse Electric Co.

After the merger with Edison, Thomson became GE’s chief engineer and encouraged the company to establish a research laboratory in Schenectady, NY. The lab became GE Global Research.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.10.27 PM

Over his career, Thomson made pioneering contributions to the development of alternating current systems, dynamos, electric streetlights and railroads, x-rays and other technologies. He received more than 700 patents.

Today, scientists at the lab he started are developing software that connects machines to the Industrial Internet, advanced manufacturing methods like 3D printing, and supermaterials such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), which are already flying inside jet engines.

“The historical narrative of electrical events in the pioneer days,” Thomson wrote,” carry me back in retrospection to the time when I first began to see that the electrical applications must have a great future and especially that electric illumination would probably be the earliest development on a large scale.”


This is an article from GE Reports

Where Gas Turbines are born!

An inside look at GE’s big iron maternity ward for gas turbines

Articles and pictures from GE REPORTS


There are places in the world that make us feel small and force us to marvel at the skills and ambitions of their architects and engineers. They include cathedrals in Europe, NASA’s Cape Canaveral rocket launch pad or the Panama Canal. GE’s gas turbine plant in Greenville, S.C., may not be on everyone’s list. But it comes close.

The plant’s several manufacturing halls – equivalent in size to nearly 21 football fields – strike most first-time visitors as the playroom of a giant toddler. Massive yellow gantry cranes lift multi-ton rotors and stators gleaming like alien silver sunflowers. They flip them around their axis, and stack them on shafts the diameter and length of tree trunks.


The place smells of high-grade steel and pulses with an industrial symphony of electrical motors cutting in and out. Computer-guided milling machines larger than delivery trucks use jagged cutting heads drenched in white cooling liquid to shape huge turbine wheels.

The plant, which opened in 1968, even has its own railroad spur and also America’s largest train turntable to move the finished turbines around.

There’s also a natural gas plant that supplies a unique test stand designed to push turbines to the limit and withstand hot wind jetting out of them at 1,100 mph – 10 times faster than a Category 3 hurricane.

The place also has a 70,000-square-foot lab replete with 3D printers and powerful lasers. Engineers use them to develop and test parts for next-generation machines like the air-cooled Harriet 9HA turbine – the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine. Although the facility is strictly off limits to outsiders, GE Reports recently got a tour. Take a look.



Two gas turbine shafts suspended in the air with stacked compressor and turbine rotors


A gas turbine of the half-shell. This image shows silver compressor blades in the front and turbines blades in the back.


These “dovetail joints” hold blades in place.

IGT stator

A gas turbine stator


Compressor blades

turbine blades

A detail of cooling holes in turbine blades.


Efficient aviation-based turbines to start lighting Thailand

GE REPORTS article by  Mike Keller

Thailand’s star has been on the rise for quite some time. Within the span of a single generation, social and economic progress has propelled it from a low to upper-middle-income level and the country’s poverty rate has been cut almost in half. But while capital has been pouring in, reliable electricity is still hard to come by.

It’s the same story all over the developing world. Power plants are expensive and take time to build. In a place like Thailand, things get even more complicated—the country’s large cities are separated by long expanses of dense forest dotted by tiny villages.

Thailand has tackled electrification by implementing alternative energy projects and by demanding better energy efficiency, both by consumers and producers. Now, a Thai company called Gulf Energy Development has just announced the next big investment to supply the energy to Bangkok. It has placed an order for six cutting-edge GE gas turbines built especially to produce power in challenging situations.


“There is demand for power everywhere, but there is also demand for environmental responsibility,” says Sherif Mohamed, an engineer with GE Power & Water. “Nowadays, you need power, but you also need higher efficiency, flexibility and reliability in any power generation project.”

The gas turbines, which GE calls LM6000-PF+ (above and below), are highly efficient machines built around technology originally developed for aircraft engines.

Workers can install these “aeroderivatives” – the name hints at their aviation heritage – and start generating electricity in as little as three months, a feat GE most recently pulled off in Egypt.

The turbines operate with an industry-leading 56 percent efficiency and an burn both gas and liquid fuel. A single unit can pump out up to 58 megawatts of electricity, enough for the equivalent of 50,000 homes. Each unit has a small footprint of around 350 square meters so that it can be installed in places where space is limited.


Just like a jet engine on a runway, the turbines can quickly kick into high gear when power is needed. “For the Gulf Energy Development project, we should be able to reach full power – about 300 megawatts between all six units – from a cold start in 10 minutes,” says Nasser Chraibi, the product line manager at GE Power & Water. “Many places throughout the developing world need this kind of flexibility.”

The turbine’s winning attributes also stem from the fact that the expertise of four different GE businesses. The company calls this approach to innovation the GE Store. New jet engine technologies in the gas turbine come from GE Aviation. The gearbox that connects the turbine to the generator is being developed by GE’s Oil & Gas business. The generator and advanced control software comes out of GE Energy Management.

Ravi Kurmahorita, an executive vice president for Gulf Energy Development said his company would be the first market in the world to get the new power-producing turbine. GE plans to start deliveries next year.