The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) and H+E-Produktentwicklung, a German engineering service provider, have developed a true-to-scale 3D printed gas turbine demonstrator.
Exhibiting the capabilities of powder bed-based additive manufacturing technologies, the miniature Siemens SGT6-8000 H gas turbine consists of 68 parts from aluminum, steel, and titanium, replacing approximately 3,000 parts used in the original component.
3D printed gas turbine
Due to the complexities of gas turbine components, various 3D printing processes were explored in this demonstrator in order to achieve optimal surface roughness and asses required support structures.
Using an Arcam Q20plus Electron Beam Melting (EBM) system, Ti-6Al-4V housing components were produced. The team at H+E then used Laser Beam Melting (LBM) to manufacture the turbine stages and additional housing components in 316L. The functionality of the demonstrator was also considered, and designers adapted shaft and turbine stages to rotate freely between the stator stages.
Though different materials were combined to produce the turbine, the team recognized some powders were limited due to the lack of commercial availability.
Go Beyond 4.0
Fraunhofer IFAM and five of its institutes (ENAS, ILT, IOF, ISC, and IWU), have also recently succeeded in manufacturing electrical conductor patterns, sensors, and high-tech lighting modules with additive manufacturing. This has led to novel designs, as well as material and weight reductions for these components. Through the €8 million project Go Beyond 4.0, the Fraunhofer institutes aim to exploit various laser-based technologies for the mass production of such parts. Professor Reinhard Baumann of Fraunhofer ENAS, and project coordinator of Go Beyond 4.0, said:
“At first, it sounds paradoxical to produce unique products in mass production lines. However, if the digital manufacturing technologies of inkjet printing and laser processing are cleverly integrated into mass production environments, the respective products can be individualized in-line.”
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Featured image shows the Siemens SGT6-8000 H gas turbine developed Fraunhofer IFAM and H+E-Produktentwicklung. Photo via Fraunhofer IFAM.