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Siemens awarded for first 3D printed gas turbine blades

13 December 2017

Siemens received an award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for its achievement with the 3D printed and fully tested gas turbine blades.

3D printed gas turbine blades (Credit: Siemens)

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 recognise 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 exclusive vetting, ASME editors selected the technologies from each of five focus areas: advanced manufacturing, automation and robotics, bioengineering, clean energy, and pressure technology.

"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."

Earlier this year, Siemens has achieved a breakthrough by finishing its first full-load engine tests for gas turbine blades completely 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 revolutions per minute 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.

"We are especially proud to be honoured by such a recognised organization as ASME," says Jenny Nilsson, who led the team that realised the blade project. "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," Jenny continues.

The project team worked with blades manufactured at the Siemens 3D printing facility in Finspong, Sweden and at Materials Solutions, the recently acquired company in Worcester, UK. Materials Solutions has more than 10 years' experience in additively manufacturing high performance parts for turbomachinery. Materials Solutions 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 high performance parts in titanium and nickel super alloys for auto sports.

Additive Manufacturing has the potential to become a key technology in the production of gas turbine components. Siemens has been investing in this innovative technology right from its inception, and is now driving the industrialisation and commercialisation of these processes. Besides the awarded turbine blades, Siemens is using the innovative technology to produce burner tips, burner nozzles and to repair burner heads. "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," says Christoph Haberland, Advisory Key Expert Additive Manufacturing, and member of the blade team.

The ASME distinction is the third award for this project, following the International 3D Printing Industry Award and the companywide Werner von Siemens Award. In addition to a 16-page special section of the December 2017 issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine, ASME has also produced a five-video series celebrating the technologies. Some of these videos were debuted at ASME's largest annual event, the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, held in Tampa in November.

For further information on the Emerging Technology Awards (Siemens = Manufacturing), please see bit.ly/MEmagAwards


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