Functional turbine out of the 3D printer

September 19, 2019 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Functional turbine out of the 3D printer
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM in Dresden has developed a functional, true-to-scale gas turbine that impressively demonstrates the current potentials and limitations of powder bed-based additive technologies. The technology demonstrator "Siemens SGT6-8000 H", a model of a gas turbine for power generation on a scale of 1:25, was completely manufactured with additive processes except for the shaft which has been manufactured conventionally on a lathe.

The component assembly consists of 68 parts made of aluminum, steel and titanium, which through component optimization and the possibilities of electron and laser beam melting technologies replace the nearly 3000 individual parts that make up the original component. The turbine is fully functional, as Fraunhofer IFAM emphasizes. At the same time, the combination of conventional manufacturing technologies - in this case turning - and additive processes with Laser Beam Melting (LBM) and Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) is shown in one component.

Fraunhofer IFAM was involved in manufacturing the component and modifying the data for technology-adapted production. The housing components with stator stages were manufactured on site at the Additive Manufacturing ICAM Innovation Center in Dresden. They were produced using electron beam melting (EBM) from Ti-6Al-4V in the Arcam Q20+ plant. The turbine stages and the other housing components were manufactured by laser beam melting at IFAM's industrial partner H+E Produktentwicklung GmbH.

In order to determine the right technology for each component, particularly complex production planning was required. For example, the accuracy and roughness of the surfaces had to be considered as well as the necessity and number of support structures. The functionality of the demonstrator was a prerequisite for all considerations. The shaft and turbine stages had to be able to rotate freely between the stator stages and the individual components of the demonstrator had to be connected to each other with minimum effort - by screwing and plugging on.

In the component, the combination of different materials commercially available from the respective plant manufacturers is demonstrated. Not all processed materials correspond to the target materials for turbines. The limitation lies in the fact that these materials cannot yet be processed in such a way that they can be offered commercially.

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