Prototype to production, Siemens achieves breakthrough in 3D printing gas turbine blad
GE, Siemens, Turbocam, Rapid Prototyping Services have been working on the manufacture of blades and turbines through 3D printing technology.
According to IDTechEx, sales of 3D printers for the oil and energy industry in 2014 were $98 million, and in 2025 it is expected to reach $1.8 billion. Obviously, this prediction is based on the current application trend of industrial grade 3D printing technology for the production of parts for the energy industry.
Germany’s CAM software and manufacturing giant Siemens has made a breakthrough and completed a special full-load engine test. The gas turbine blades are completely made of additive manufacturing (AM) technology, which means that 3D printing technology is more ready for production. The letter is indeed chiseled.
Siemens successfully verified the feasibility of additive manufacturing turbine blades in a simulated real-world environment. At 13,000 rpm and temperatures exceeding 1250 degrees Celsius, the blade design tested by Siemens has a fully improved internal cooling geometry.
The blades are mounted on a Siemens SGT-400 industrial gas turbine with a power of 13 megawatts (MW). Turbine blades are made of high performance polycrystalline nickel superalloy powder, which allows them to withstand the high pressure, high temperature and rotational forces of the turbine at high speeds. At full load, these turbine blades operate at speeds of up to 1600 km/h, are surrounded by air at temperatures up to 1,250 °C and enter an air-cooled environment at 400 °C.
These blades come from Materials Solutions, a company acquired by Siemens. The core competency of Materials Solutions comes from its ability to control selective laser melting materials. Areas of expertise include Inconel 625, Inconel 718, and nickel-based alloys including Hasteloy X, C263, C1023, CM247LC. By achieving control over the material’s processing, Materials Solutions has developed its core competencies: the processing capabilities of superalloys such as blades are not only superior, but their geometry is also not possible with conventional processing.
Siemens has extensive knowledge in important areas such as materials science, automation, manufacturing and process, and therefore has great prospects in the 3D printing industry. The successful testing of advanced blade designs opens the door to the next step in leveraging the potential of additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing can achieve excellent mechanical properties, fine-grained microstructure of powdered raw materials, and anisotropy in microstructure requires control and guidance. In addition to the blades, Siemens is developing a unique gas turbine design. With more than 100 years of experience in the energy market, Siemens has transformed new design possibilities into customer-specific solutions.
Siemens extensively uses additive manufacturing technology for rapid prototyping and has introduced components for a range of production solutions for gas turbine compressors and combustion systems. In February 2016, Siemens invested €21.4 million in Finspång, Sweden, to open a large-scale factory for the manufacture of metal 3D printed parts, to develop new or improved components, and to repair Siemens industrial gas turbines faster – such as the SGT-800.
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