By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)December 21, 2010
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - When a reclaimed part doesn't meet Army specifications, there is often little that can be done other than recycle it as scrap metal. That is changing thanks to a new machine known as the POM, or Precision Optical Manufacturing.
The POM, which is similar to the Laser Engineered Net Shaping machine utilized by the depot's Turbine Engine Value Stream to reclaim engine parts, fuses powdered metal to a base metal surface with a laser.
Brian Anderson, an engineer in the depot's Directorate of Engineering and Quality, said this technology may one day allow the depot to completely construct parts based on a computer model, but it is most useful in restoring worn parts or improving a piece of equipment's wearability.
"This provides an alternative technology," said Anderson. "Some of these parts can't be made completely out of an alloy because it is too expensive, but a coating will give it the wear resistance without the cost."
Because the process changes the part's properties, though it's often for the better, each time DEQ is approached with a potential part alteration it must be approved by TACOM Life Cycle Management Command before being implemented.
"When you have a part, you have mechanical properties. As you do this process, you have affected the properties of the part," said Phillip Coleman of DEQ.
As part of the approval process, DEQ must perform tensile and wear testing and submit results to TACOM LCMC. The testing, which is done according to standards, gives DEQ and TACOM LCMC the data needed to make the best decisions for each part.