Custom gas turbine components manufactured in a fraction of the time required using traditional methods and at a reasonable cost: it sounds too good to be true, but with the advent of 3-D printing, Siemens and GE say it’s the way of the future.
Both companies have been working for years to perfect their 3-D printing—also called additive manufacturing—offerings and both have seen remarkable results.
Siemens has been an active user of additive manufacturing since 1989, according to company press materials, but has really picked up its use of the technology more recently. In February 2016, the company opened a new production facility for 3-D printing in Finspång, Sweden (Figure 1), and the first 3-D printed component for a Siemens heavy-duty gas turbine entered into commercial operation in July 2016, according to the materials.
Siemens currently offers rapid prototyping of turbine vanes and blades as well as combustion parts, rapid repair of burner tips for the SGT-700/SGT-800 models, rapid manufacturing of burner fronts for the SGT-700/SGT-800 models, and spare burner heads on demand for the SGT-1000F.
Even more recently, Siemens has successfully reverse engineered an impeller for a fire protection pump in Slovenia’s Krško nuclear power plant, marking the first time a 3-D-printed part has been installed in a nuclear plant.
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