Contact us by email or phone.
BAE Systems worker feels the heat at 950C
STEVE Mercer must feel like the hottest man in Lancashire.
The 6ft 6in hot press operator handles red hot metals at temperatures of up to 950C and is part of a process which is pushing the boundaries of engineering.
Steve works at the BAE Systems site in Samlesbury, and the firm is hoping his experience will inspire the next generation of engineers as part of British engineering during National Science and Engineering Week.
He helps transform sheets of metal into high-performance components for the Typhoon and F-35 fighter planes.
Steve, who wears a specially-made suit with a unique shiny surface to insulate from heat in both directions, said: “Standing within a couple of metres of a hot press might sound daunting to some people, but it really isn’t.
“Everything has been designed in a way to make the process safe and efficient.”
The parts begin life as titanium sheets and under-go a series of processes and treatments, including being diffusion bonded together to form one single piece, before being heated to the super-plastic state.
Hot inert gas is then blown into the component to a precisely controlled press-ure cycle to create the desired shape. This is done without losing any of the original properties of the material and ensuring the end product is incredibly light and strong enough to endure the harshest cond-itions in the sky.
The aerospace firm also has a base in Warton and is one of the biggest employers in the county.