The Need for Automation and Quality Control

Materials in gas turbine engines are often designed to operate near their durability limits, and this is certainly the case with thermal barrier coatings. Therefore, process optimization and automation backe,d by careful quality control procedures are essential during both research and production. (An example of the type of approach needed was presented at this conference by A1 Matarese from the United Technologies Research Center.) Inadequate attention to quality control generally leads to poor or erratic coating performance. As a Result, a coating system under evaluation may perform poorly solely as a result of non-optimum processing. Even a positive test result will be of limited value if there is no guarantee of reproducibility due to insufficient quality control. Furthermore, any attempts to improve materials and processing are virtually impossible if process variability masks all intentional variations.- Therefore one may conclude that a lack of quality control may severely impede progress in aerospace as well as other applications of thermal barrier coatings.

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