The blades were installed in a Siemens SGT-400 industrial gas turbine with a capacity of 13 megawatts (MW). The AM turbine blades are made out of a powder of
high performing polycrystalline nickel superalloy, allowing them to endure high pressure, hot temperatures and the rotational forces of the turbine’s high speed
operation. At full load each of these turbine blades is travelling at over 1,600 km/h, carrying 11 tons or equivalent to a fully loaded London bus, is surrounded by gas at
1,250 °C and cooled by air at over 400 °C. The advanced blade design tested in Lincoln provides improved cooling features that can increase overall efficiency of the
Siemens gas turbines.
Additive Manufacturing is a process that builds parts layer-by-layer from sliced CAD models to form solid objects. Also known as ‘3D printing’ it especially provides
benefits in rapid prototyping. “This exciting technology is changing the way we manufacture by reducing the lead time for prototype development up to 90 percent,” said
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. This new flexibility in manufacturing also allows Siemens to develop closer to the customer’s requirements
and also to provide spare parts on demand.”
Siemens has a broad knowledge in essential areas like materials sciences, automation, manufacturing and process know how and is thus in a great position to shape
the future in the 3D printing industry. The successful test of the advanced blade design is the next step in order to use the full potential of AM. Siemens is developing
unique gas turbine designs which are only possible with AM and extends its serial production for printed turbine equipment. With an experience of more than 100 years
in the energy market, Siemens converts the new design possibilities to specific solutions for its customers.
Siemens extensively uses AM technology for rapid prototyping and has already introduced serial production solutions for components in the gas turbines’ compressor
and combustion system. In February 2016 Siemens opened a new production facility for 3D printed components in Finspång, Sweden. The first 3D printed component
for a Siemens heavy-duty gas turbine is in commercial operation since July 2016.
Breakthrough in 3D printing
Siemens finished its first full load engine tests for conventional and completely new designed gas turbine blades produced using Additive Manufacturing technology.