Meccanotecnica Umbra is pushing limits of sealing technology forward

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Emanuele Minciarelli

In early 2015, Meccanotecnica Umbra joined forces with AugustaWestland – a helicopter design and manufacturing company and now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leonardo S.p.A – to develop a new product for the Asian market. “It was quite a challenge for us since we were asked to go beyond our limits to design a mechanical seal for transmissions that had special technical features. It was an unusual product, even for AugustaWestland. In fact, it was a one-off. Maybe this was the reason why they landed with us while exploring new options. One-off production may not always be an attractive investment in terms of turnover. That’s why relying on Meccanotecnica, which showed flexibility, excellent communication skills and affinity, was important. These elements allow Meccanotecnica Umbra to promptly react to problems that companies face when dealing with suppliers of high-tech projects,” said Emanuele Minciarelli, sales manager at Meccanotecnica Umbra Group. “At first, it was difficult to convince Meccanotecnica Umbra to embrace such an innovative, challenging and risky project.”

As a matter of fact, this project required a rotational speed of 15,000 to 18,000 rpm, when the standard rotational speed for Meccanotecnica Umbra was 4,000 to 5,000 rpm. For Meccanotecnica, it meant stepping into an unknown world: helicopters. It was about leaving its comfort zone (ground pressure equal to 1 bar) to embrace the altitude where pressure is near 0 bar. The decision to proceed with this project was made when the year was about to end. An exciting new challenge that would make us discover the Aerospace world. These were our resolutions for the new year, which was expected to be full of changes and achievements.

Meccanotecnica Umbra and Leonardo joined forces to define new spaces, develop a new product, and expand their expertise. And after various prototypes, they came up with the final product in mid-2017. A bet that ended up being successful. When embarking on a new adventure, the achievements are often greater than those initially imagined, and results may even transcend the project itself.

“Leonardo S.p.A’s technicians and managers came to visit Meccanotecnica Umbra to see how we are operating. To work in the Aerospace industry, you need a series of certifications. For this purpose, we organised various audits to prove that our standards were in line with the aerospace industry,” said Minciarelli. “This partnership has brought Meccanotecnica Umbra to prominent fields. More importantly, it allowed us to grow our expertise, technical and organisational skills and leave an unparalleled legacy.”

Behind these excellent results that have led to other projects in the aerospace sector, there’s the awareness of how far we have gone. A journey that has allowed Meccanotecnica Umbra to expand its identity without distorting its nature. The collaboration with the aerospace industry forced Meccanotecnica Umbra to make ethical decisions since the same technology could also be applied to the military sector. A challenge within the challenge, which we managed to win without compromising the company’s values.

That project allowed Meccanotecnica Umbra to push the accelerator in different technical fields, such as dry-running or high rotational speed. Today, Meccanotecnica Umbra designs components that can operate at up to 40,000 rpm. It also manufactures innovative test benches and develops new technologies, such as laser surface treatment. It also develops major projects, such as H.E.R.O., which uses part of the laser surface treatment resulting from the aerospace project.

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