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Layer by layer, 3D printers create components out of powder using a laser. This innovative method of production has multiple advantages compared to conventional techniques. With 3D printing, materials are added instead of taken away, which reduces the use of materials, as well as keeping costs low. To create a component, additive manufacturing simply requires a design file to be uploaded. In this way, production and delivery times are shortened and storage and transportation costs are lower.

What Can Additive Manufacturing Offer the Energy Industry?

Researchers in Australia are currently looking into the possible production of solid-state batteries using a 3D printer . They hope to revolutionize the market for photovoltaic storage systems for houses by printing batteries on to the back of solar panels. Further areas of application could include electric cars and building-integrated photovoltaics. Even solar panels themselves could soon be 3D printed , according to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

MAN Diesel & Turbo has managed to equip gas turbines with components created by a metal 3D printer . In the future, it aims to manufacture components for compressor wheels. In addition, Siemens has successfully completed tests on gas turbine blades that were produced by metallic 3D printing and tested under the full load of a turbine.

Additive Manufacturing Enables Bionic Structures

Additive manufacturing holds a potential that researchers, designers, and engineers could previously only dream of. There is much more freedom for design as parts are produced in one piece. This opens up countless opportunities, such as producing molds that until now were too complex and time-consuming to manufacture.

These could include designs such as three-dimensional and bionic structures modeled on forms found in nature. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology explain that these could be modeled on honeycomb, lattice, or ribbed structures – like those found in the spongy tissue in bone. A particularly special feature of 3D printing is its ability to create items with cavities. This means that components can be produced with hollow structures, for example the rotor blades of a wind turbine.

Cost-Effectively Manufacturing Small Batches

In additive manufacturing, there is no need for special tools, molds, or other equipment – all that is needed is data. If adjustments must be made to the finished product, these can be immediately changed in the design file. This enables fast implementation of individual customer requests and eliminates the need for spare parts, saving energy as well as money.

What other 3D printed components will reliably support power generation in the future? Energy , the international trade fair for integrated energy systems and mobility, offers a wide range of forums, conferences, and special events as part of HANNOVER MESSE. It presents new approaches and offers visitors the opportunity to exchange views on current developments with experts.