Power generation business booming for tooling specialist Walter GB

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During the past three years, tooling specialist Walter GB's power generation business has increased three-fold and despite the global recession had a record year in 2009.

Walter order books are dominated by gas and steam turbine components such as runners, blades, housings and generator shafts, as well as, wind energy plant gear components (housings, bearings, gear wheels), shafts and housings. These components are invariably of high-cost, difficult-to-machine materials and often there are no test workpieces for experimentation with tooling. Tests, therefore, are predominantly conducted on 'living components', often between roughing cuts, or dimensionally within a tolerance range during which no permanent damage can occur. Such test cuts require both the customer's trust and a corresponding level of experience from Walter. Such is the case at Alstom, the world's leading manufacturer of gas and steam turbines, where over a 20-year association Walter is now the company's main tooling supplier, providing around 60 per cent of the tooling required for rotor manufacture. These are mainly milling and drilling tools, including special form mills for rotor grooves and special tools for coupling systems. According to Andreas Elenz, responsible for power engineering at Walter, the company's continued success in the sector is the ability to provide customers with an holistic approach to problem-solving tooling solutions. "Power generation manufacturers commission us to develop end-to-end concepts for the production of individual parts or components, consisting of pre-machining and finishing processes. This invariably involves an intense amount of process support and a high ratio of special tooling solutions, which in these cases accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of our work," said Mr Elenz.