MFN Trainer Column
in Vol. 20 - November Issue - Year 2019
Shot Peening a process of Improvisations
The biggest room they say is the room for improvement. No matter how much improvement you have made, there is always going to be an opportunity to make more. Although Shot peening itself is a process of making improvement in components with cyclic loading, there have been many improvements also made in the process control of shot peening ever since its inception.
Early development of shot peening was mostly academic from 1927 up to the 1940s. We find significant development in practical applications after the Second World War. Improved fatigue strength was found with measurement of induced stresses with the X-ray diffraction method. Hundreds of scientists and research experts have worked and are still working on new applications. We can discover an astonishing number of research papers on the subject of shot peening on the internet!
No doubt the benefits of shot peening are tremendous, but it is also due to the flexibility of the shot-peening process that it has been able to touch so many mechanical components in every industry, be it aerospace, automobiles, oil and gas, or the medical field, or be it small components like a spring or a big part as an aircraft wing.
For me, shot-peening technology like many other technologies is both constant and evolving. Constant in its objectivity and evolving in achieving the objective. Apart from the conventional shot peening methods today, we have laser shock peening, ultrasonic shot peening, flap peening, water jet peening, etc. These non-conventional methods with limited scope today have very significant roles to play in future.
Also, in conventional shot peening, there are opportunities of improvisations due to availability of the latest electronic and mechanical inventions. This started from manual shot peening machines to semi-automatic and now computer-controlled and robotic machines. These modern inventions have made our life easy by their ability to be programmable.
Our pursuit for improvement arises from internal or external factors, sometimes due to competition or due to environmental factors, either being self-motivated or forced upon the operator.
We find opportunities for improvement during periodical internal or external audits. A well-trained machine operator may also provide suggestions for improvements and imbibe quality practices.
We all work in this industry and come across teams who want to implement effective methods of shot peening. They have so many questions related to fundamentals of shot peening, standards procedures and equipment, so it is always interesting to work with people that share your passion and are enterprising - an inquiring mind always finds an answer!
Often the greatest challenge is when the different members of the team have different understandings of the customer requirements and/or shot peening. In other words, it is required for the entire team to be on the same page; nevertheless, the customer is also part of the team and needs to have complete knowledge.
Due to incomplete knowledge or lack of experience, one might not want to explore the possibilities; also this might sometimes be due to one bad experience, and one would not want to try to make any changes in the current process. In any case, the real solution to the problem is gaining right knowledge. Once you acquire knowledge, you not only become confident of the process but also achieve the desired results.
Training in this regard forms the backbone for the entire process of improvisation. Of course, the actual process parameters are subject to extensive trials. With right knowledge and appropriate actions, what comes out is an improvised process. If the entire team or key team members have the basic shot peening training, it really helps the team to make quick decisions.
When we talk of external factors, constantly changing demands due to environmental and economic challenges is also driving the pursuit of improvisation. Rising oil prices and global warming have opened up huge opportunities in technologies for clean energy. Change is the only constant and shot peening has and will continue to play a big role in improving these technologies.
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Author: Rishabh Shah