Germany’s MAN Diesel & Turbo is now equipping gas turbines with 3D-printed components.
Chief executive Dr Uwe Lauber said that the company was “the first manufacturer in the world to use complex 3D-printed metallic components not only for test runs, but also for serial production”.
He said the move has come “after a decade of research and development”.
Dr Roland Herzog, head of material technology in MAN Diesel’s Strategic Business Unit Turbomachinery, said that 3D pinting – also known as additive manufacturing – offers “huge potential for our product range, especially when it comes to the production of gas turbine components”.
“Additively-manufactured guide vane segments that we are now incorporating into our type MGT6100 gas turbines have proven particularly suitable. The approval for serial production is the result of intense co-operation with highly-specialized suppliers and development partners such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology.”
In order to further exploit the potential of 3D printing, MAN Diesel is currently investing €2.6m ($2.7m) in what it calls the MAN Centre for Additive Manufacturing, based at the company’s turbomachinery works in Oberhausen.
The company said design specialists, materials experts and production engineers will come together at the so-called ‘MANCAM’ “to extend the benefits of additive manufacturing to further components and products, for example compressor impellers or fuel nozzles for engines”.
Herzog added: “As well as shortened development cycles, 3D printing gives more freedom for innovative, superior component designs, reduces production and delivery times and enables us service-wise to produce spare parts on call.”
Lauber said the the standardized use of additive manufacturing “is a strategic milestone” for MAN Diesel. “3D printing gives us clear competitive advantages in terms of our products supporting the decarbonization of industry and power generation. The techniques considerably reduce the path from an innovative design to a finished product. The digital data from our R&D departments can be converted into better products more quickly than before, while customers are supported throughout the entire product lifecycle with 3D-printing-based services.”