Toward the beginning of this year, Siemens made history when it successfully tested fully 3D printed gas turbine blades for the first time ever. Now the company is being officially recognized for that achievement as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has presented it with an award as part of its Emerging Technology Awards. The awards were designed to recognize what ASME calls ascending technology, which encompasses new products and processes that have moved past the breakthrough stage and through the so-called “valley of death” to the point at which they’re ready to reshape their industries.
The awards were divided into 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 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.”
At the beginning of the year, Siemens successfully validated several 3D printed turbine blades with a conventional blade design at full engine conditions, meaning that they were tested at 13,000 revolutions per minute and temperatures beyond 1,250°C. The company also tested a new blade design with an improved internal cooling geometry, which could not have been achieved without additive manufacturing.
“We are especially proud to be honored by such a recognized organization as ASME,” said Jenny Nilsson, who led the team that realized 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.”
The blades were additively manufactured at Siemens’ 3D printing facility in Finspong, Sweden and at Materials Solutions, which Siemens recently acquired following an earlier strategic investment. Materials Solutions has more than a decade’s experience 3D printing high-performance parts for turbomachinery, and is an approved vendor for additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry. In addition, the company provides tooling to automotive companies and high-performance parts in titanium and nickel super alloys for auto sports.
Siemens has been working with 3D printing since its beginnings, and is now working toward the commercialization and industrialization of the technology. This year, Siemens has announced increasing focus on industrializing additive manufacturing through initiatives like a new collaborative digital platform. In addition to the history-making 3D printed gas turbine blades, Siemens has also been 3D printing burner tips and burner nozzles and repairing burner heads.
“Additive Manufacturing is one of our main pillars in our digitalization strategy,” said Christoph Haberland, Advisory Key Expert Additive Manufacturing, and member of the blade team. “With our combined know-how in 3D printing, we will continue to drive the technological development and application in this field.”
Siemens has won more than one award for its gas turbine blade project, and if it continues heading in the direction it is heading in, it’s likely to win more awards in the future for its drive and innovation in additive manufacturing.
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