Siemens has produced its first 3D printed gas turbine blades. A multi-national team, including the company Materials Solution, a 3D printing facility in the UK, has made these blades from high performing polycrystalline nickel super-alloy from powder form. These blades have been fully revised from previous designs and have an improved internal cooling geometry.
“This is a groundbreaking success for the use of additive manufacturing in the field of power generation, one of the most demanding areas of application for this technology,” says Willi Meixner, CEO of Siemens Power and Gas Division. “Additive manufacturing is a major pillar in our digitization strategy. The successful tests resulted from the efforts of a committed international project team comprising Siemens engineers from Finspong, Lincoln, and Berlin, as well as experts from Materials Solutions”
Gas turbine blades must withstand extreme conditions. Inside a turbine, they undergo high pressures, tremendous centrifugal forces, and high temperatures. At full power, blades rotate at 1,600 km/h and carry loads of 11 tons. The blades must also withstand tremendous heat because they are surrounded by 1,250°C gas when the turbine is in full operation. These new blades have been fully tested under these challenging conditions.
Conventional processing of turbine blades is by casting or forging, which are complex, costly and time-consuming. 3D printing greatly decreases the time to make a part and uses a laser beam to heat and melt fine layers of metal powder until the part is complete.