Siemens makes first 3D-printed gas turbine blades
Full-load engine tests for Siemens’ first 3D-printed gas turbine blades saw the components operate at 13,000 revolutions per minute in temperatures of more than 1,250°C
Siemens has unveiled its first gas turbines produced through additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing technology.
The components have undergone full-load engine tests, which saw the blades operate at 13,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) in temperatures of more than 1,250°C.
In addition, Siemens tested a new blade design with a completely revised and improved internal cooling geometry, which was also produced using AM technology.
The project team used blades manufactured at the UK 3D-printing facility of Materials Solutions, a company recently acquired by Germany-headquartered Siemens.
Willi Meixner, chief executive officer of Siemens’ power and gas division, said: “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.
“Additive manufacturing is one of the main pillars in our digitalisation strategy. The successful tests were the result of a dedicated international project team with contributions from Siemens engineers in Finspång, Lincoln, and Berlin, together with experts from Materials Solutions.”
Made from a powder of high-performing polycrystalline nickel super-alloy, Siemens’ AM turbine blades are able to endure high pressures, temperatures, and rotational forces. At full load, each turbine blade travels at speeds in excess of 1,000 mph and carries 10 tonnes – or the equivalent of a fully-laden London bus.
Blades manufactured as part of the development programme, which was completed within an 18-month timeframe, were installed in a Siemens SGT-400 industrial gas turbine with a capacity of 13MW.
“[AM] technology is changing the way we manufacture by reducing the lead time for prototype development [by] up to 90%,” noted Meixner.
“Siemens is a pioneer in additive manufacturing. We can accelerate the development of new gas turbine designs with an increased efficiency and availability, and can bring these advancements faster to our customers,” he concluded.