Additive manufacturing reinvents the gas turbine
To demonstrate the possibilities and limits of powder-bed-based additive manufacturing, scientists and engineers have printed a Siemens turbine to scale – with only 68 individual components instead of around 3,000.03 Oct. 2019 Roland Freist
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden and employees of H+E Produktentwicklung in Moritzburg based their design on the Siemens SGT6-8000 H gas turbine, creating a 1:25 scale model . Unlike the original, the individual components were produced entirely using additive manufacturing. The benefits are obvious: Over 3,000 parts in the original turbine can be replaced with just 68, which are almost exclusively 3D-printed using aluminum, steel and titanium. The model is fully functional.
The partners involved mentioned production planning as a particular challenge, having to select the right technology for each component. They had to take things into consideration such as precision and surface roughness, as well as the necessity and number of supporting structures and component size. The project also revealed the current limits of additive manufacturing: Not all of the materials processed measure up to the target materials of the original turbine. The reason was simple: they aren’t yet able to be processed appropriately for commercial use.
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