Evolution and control: Wheelabrator’s new foundry wheel stays on the racing line for step-change in productivity

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Surface preparation expert Wheelabrator has invented a brand new blast wheel for forge and foundry applications: COMET HD. The new wheel achieves a step-change in performance and productivity – thanks to a new approach to R&D.

Unveiled at GIFA 2015, COMET HD marks a first milestone on a radically new wheel development journey - for Wheelabrator and for the industry. After almost 100 years of wheel blast technology, a forensic approach as well as a completely new way of thinking were required to improve what appeared to be a thoroughly understood piece of equipment.

Clifford Parr, President & COO at Wheelabrator Plus, said: “COMET HD is the result of a huge leap in understanding of what happens inside a blast wheel. The team I briefed to develop the new wheel was made up of the best brains in the industry, from across the globe. They were given the time and freedom to discover, challenge, evolve and test, and they completely redesigned our testing facilities to use new technology - to better understand the wheel, improve it and then test it to destruction. Their approach has taken wheel development to a new level, employing more sophisticated methods to improve the process holistically. For the customer, the sum of all these clever improvements equals drastically increased productivity – thanks to less wear, less maintenance, less downtime, less room for error, as well as higher blast performance and higher precision.”

High-tech imaging and testing equipment (including a super-highspeed camera) was used to chart the flow of the abrasive in never-before-seen detail, allowing the development team to identify all instances of waste within the blast wheel, and eliminate them bit by bit.

The result: a much smaller proportion of input power is lost or left to cause wear inside the machine, and more is used to do exactly what it is supposed to do: accelerate abrasive at the workpiece surface in a defined and controlled pattern.

To control the abrasive’s path inside the wheel, a range of adjustments were made to impeller, control cage and blades, as well as the positioning of these components in relation to one another. New methods were employed to find the best impeller dam geometry and position, systematically eliminating options in a process of controlled evolution.

Every detail of the new wheel is geared towards keeping the abrasive on the “racing line”, resulting in the most efficient application of energy and a neat and controllable hotspot. This has a direct impact on the energy consumption of a blast machine, allowing machine operators to either achieve the same blast performance at lower input power, or a higher performance at the same power.

In particular, the improvements prevent premature abrasive breakdown, inefficient “extra laps” of the abrasive before being picked up by a wheel blade, and abrasive skipping a blade and being picked up at the wrong point. All three phenomena were discovered by the Wheelabrator team and identified as inefficiencies. Eliminating them saves abrasive as well as energy.

Tackling these inefficiencies also means improved abrasive and blade life and overall reduced wear inside the COMET HD wheel – and consequently longer maintenance intervals.

The COMET HD wheel is currently in advanced field testing with selected customers and will be offered globally later in 2015. Full specification details will be available from the Wheelabrator website where interested customers can also register for updates about the new wheel.


Company Info

Wheelabrator Group Ltd.

22 Edward Court
WA14 5GL Altrincham

Telephone: +44 161 928 6388