Laser Shock Peening (LSP) is the world’s most powerful metal enhancement method. Laser Peening replaces and improves upon shot peening by using laser-generated plasma bursts to produce deep compressive residual stresses for component life extension. LSP is a high-tech, innovative surface treatment that has already saved millions of dollars and untold lives through its application on critical turbine engine components.
If you’re not yet familiar with the basics of Laser Peening, here’s a quick rundown of the Who, What, When, Where and Why of this revolutionary process.
The network of commercial laser peening providers is relatively small. The industry’s flagship provider, LSP Technologies, Inc. (LSPT), brought laser peening from the research labs of Battelle Memorial Institute to the world’s most prolific turbine engine manufacturers. LSPT remains the only company on earth with both the technical expertise and intellectual property rights to design and sell laser peening systems.
Laser Peening makes metal parts stronger and more resistant to failure. This occurs through a surface hardening and plastic deformation that inhibits the propagation of fatigue cracks – a major lifetime inhibitor of metal components. Laser Peening prevents cracking on the part surface, and provides a strong protective layer of compressive residual stresses several millimeters deep. This enhancement produces robust components that can operate safely for millions of cycles beyond their original fatigue limit.
Laser Peening has been studied for nearly fifty years, with technological advancements over the last two decades accelerating LSP adoption as a production application. Below are several benchmarks in the evolution of Laser Shock Peening:
1974 – First Laser Peening patent awarded to Phillip Mallozzi and Barry Fairand. Learn more.
1997 – Laser peening solves Foreign Object Damage (FOD) problem for the U.S. Air Force leading to first commercial application on the B-1 bomber. Learn more.
2003 – Laser peening solves fatigue and performance issues for new USAF fighter engine preventing costly redesign and delays.
2009 – Laser peening solves erosion problem on 7F R0 blades and is adopted by the power generation industry with first commercial application on land-based gas turbine components. Learn more.
2015 – First commercial laser peening system unveiled for high-volume production processing. Learn more.
Columbus, Ohio is the epicenter of Laser Shock Peening production work. Columbus is the home of Battelle Memorial Institute, a massive nonprofit organization that played host to the initial investigations of LSP for metal enhancement in the 1970s. In the mid-1990s, a team of Battelle engineers founded LSP Technologies Inc. in nearby Dublin, Ohio, and designed the first production laser peening systems. LSPT is still headquartered in Dublin where the company performs production laser peening and manufactures LSP equipment.
Laser Shock Peening is applied for two main reasons: Safety and Savings.
Safety: Laser Peening is the only metal enhancement method powerful enough to prevent catastrophic component failures in critical aerospace applications. LSP is routinely applied to engine blades, wing lugs, and landing gear struts – crucial components whose failure presents a major safety risk for airline passengers and crew.
Savings: Laser peening extends component service lifetimes by enhancing resistance to common metal failure modes like high-cycle fatigue (HCF), stress corrosion cracking (SCC), and foreign object damage (FOD). These phenomena all produce cracks in metal components that cause a part to fail prematurely. Laser peening inhibits these cracks and delays these failure modes, extending component lifetimes and saving millions of dollars in maintenance and replacement costs.