Siemens successful in gas turbine 3D-printing test

Siemens has run a successful test of power generation gas turbine blades produced wholly by metal-based 3D printing in what is being hailed as a breakthrough for additive manufacturing.

The gas-fired power blade project was performed by UK-based Materials Solutions, which the German engineering giant bought last year.
Willi Meixner
Siemens said on Monday it was the first to test such blades under full-load engine conditions at 13,000 revolutions per minutes and temperatures above 1,250 Celsius (2,282 Fahrenheit). It called the test a “breakthrough”, although it is not yet clear when this format will go into full commercial operation.

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, involves making a three-dimensional object by adding ultra-thin layers of material one by one, following a digital design, in contrast to conventional manufacturing, where excess material is cut away.

“This is a breakthrough success for the use of additive manufacturing in the power generation field, which is one of the most challenging applications for this technology,” Willi Meixner, head of Siemens’ Power and Gas division, said.

A Siemens spokesman said the technology reduced the design-to-testing time to two months from two years.

The blades in the Siemens test were made from a powder of high-performing polycrystalline nickel superalloy. The 3D technology made possible a new design with improved internal cooling geometry.

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