How Siemens have put the ‘Manufacturing’ into Additive Manufacturing this week
Siemens have put the ‘manufacturing’ into additive manufacturing this week, as the company announce their breakthrough in successfully 3D printing and testing gas turbine blades.
Produced by Siemens’ newly acquired business, Worcester-based 3D printing specialist Materials Solutions, the turbine blades were made out of high performing polycrystalline nickel superalloy.
Subjected to a full load engine test, where the blades had to endure 13,000 revolutions per minute and temperatures in excess of 1,250 degrees Celsius, the additively produced blades passed all operational tests without a hitch.
Additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing, has been cited as a revolutionary new method of manufacture, however very few practical applications have been completed to the quality and cost expectations to make the method a viable option for manufacturers.
Additive manufacturing still has its limitations; the size of components that can be manufactured, the scale of manufacture and the raft of approval hurdles that need to be overcome all present challenges.
The flexibility of 3D printing to produce components on demand, particularly in remote locations presents advantages to an expansive list of applications. Additive manufacturing technology will also speed up the design and prototyping process, enabling for quicker and more cost effective innovations to be tested and brought to market.
At Surface Technology we are particularly interested in the potential for additive manufactured components to increase the adhesion of coatings through micro-scale engineered surfaces – something Siemens have found in recent tests. We expect this will have an impact on coating performance and so help extend the operational life of components.
For more on Siemens’ use of 3D printing, view this article in Power Engineering International.
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