Siemens' 3D-printed turbine blade development recognised

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The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has recognised Siemens for its outstanding technological achievement in producing the first successfully 3D-printed and fully tested gas turbine blades.

The blades were printed at Materials Solutions, Siemens’ recently acquired company in Worcester, UK, and in Finspong, Sweden, amnd Siemens is now industrialising the process.

“The 3D-printed turbine blade places Siemens at the forefront of a technology trend that is spurring a global revolution in product design and production,” said Charla K. Wise, president of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME. “Mechanical Engineering magazine is pleased to present one of the five Emerging Technology Awards to a leader in manufacturing, and we thank the design team on the 3D-printed blade for advancing technology excellence.”

The Mechanical Engineering magazine Emerging Technology Awards is the first in the 137-year history of the Society that Mechanical Engineering magazine has singled out such future-focused technologies for recognition. The goal is to recognize some outstanding examples of what ASME calls ascending technologies: new products and processes that have left the breakthrough stage, crossed the so-called commercialisation valley of death, and are poised to reshape the industries where they compete. After vetting, ASME editors selected the technologies from each of five focus areas: advanced manufacturing, automation and robotics, bioengineering, clean energy and pressure technology.

Earlier this year, Siemens achieved a breakthrough by finishing its first full-load engine tests for gas turbine blades produced using additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The company successfully validated multiple 3D-printed turbine blades with a conventional blade design at full engine conditions. This means the components were tested at 13,000 rpm and temperatures beyond 1,250 °C. Furthermore, Siemens tested a new blade design with a completely revised and improved internal cooling geometry manufactured using the AM technology.

Said Jenny Nilsson, who led the team that realised the blade project: “We are especially proud to be honoured by such a recognised organization as ASME. The project objective was to try out and map this radical new way of working. The outcome is another confirmation that we are on the right path toward further improvements of our gas turbine technology.”

UK firm Materials Solutions has more than 10 years` experience in additively manufacturing high performance parts for turbomachinery. It is AS 9100 certified and an approved vendor for additive manufacturing for leading customers in the aerospace industry. Applying its aerospace experience, Materials Solutions also supplies tooling to leading automotive companies and additionally supplies high performance parts in titanium and nickel super-alloys for auto sport companies.

Concludes Christoph Haberland, advisory key expert additive manufacturing, and member of the blade team: “Additive Manufacturing is one of our main pillars in our digitalisation strategy. With our combined know-how in 3D printing, we will continue to drive the technological development and application in this field.”