The 131,500 aircraft mechanics and service technicians that were working in the U.S. in 2017 have a lot of different tools and machines they need to do their jobs properly. One of the most important tools in the aircraft service industry is a balancing machine. This article is going to delve into what a portable balancing machine is and how it is used.
A balancing machine does what it sounds like it does — it measures the level of unbalance within parts through vibration analysis. These machines can be used to measure rotating parts, like propellers, turbines, and motors. Balancing machines have to pedestals that sit on top of a supporting platform. The part that needs to be tested is bolted on a platform and rotated with a belt or end driver. While the part is rotating, the balancing machine aims to monitor vibration by detecting vibrations through the machine’s sensors. This information is then used to determine how balanced the part is.
There are two types of balancing machines; soft-bearing and hard-bearing. Soft-bearing machines use bearings that are free to move, allowing the rotor to behave as if it’s in mid-air. This design also allows the machine to be moved without having the calibration impacted. Hard-bearing machines, on the other hand, have stiff bearings, which require a stiff foundation that can hold them in place. The work supports must be calibrated in place, meaning they need to be re-calibrated if the machine is moved. This method of bearing vibration keeps the rotor constrained so the machine can measure the force that is put on the bearings.
Portable balancing machines can be used during routine maintenance or when making repairs and adjustments. When choosing a balancing machine, aircraft mechanics should ensure the supports can be adjusted to be able to run several rotor types without having to switch machines. They should also consider the software that is used with the machine — the easier the software is to use, the easier the machine is going to be to use. And they should always make sure the amount and place of the imbalance in the part is clearly displayed and can be corrected as needed.
Balancing machines are important to ensuring aircraft parts are in perfect condition. Without these machines, there would be no way to tell if they’re properly balanced or not, which could result in poor functioning.