Siemens test 3D printed superalloy parts for gas turbine aerospace engine

Siemens has successfully 3D printed and engine tested a complex combustion component for its aeroderivative gas turbine, the SGT-A05. The dry low emission (DLE) pre-mixer, also known as a burner chamber or flame holder, was produced using Siemens’ printable nickel-based superalloys.

As a result of the engine tests, the 3D printed DLE pre-mixer demonstrated the potential for significant reductions in Carbon Monoxide (CO) emissions.

“This is another excellent example of how additive manufacturing is revolutionizing our industry, delivering measurable benefits and real value to our customers, particularly as they look to further reduce emissions to meet environmental targets,” said Vladimir Navrotsky, Chief Technology Officer for Siemens Power Generation Services, Distributed Generation.

The 3D printed DLE pre-mixer. Photo via Siemens.
The 3D printed DLE pre-mixer. Photo via Siemens.

Design freedom in power generation engines

Produced and tested at the Siemens’ AM Center of Competence in Finspang, Sweden, the DLE pre-mixer decreases CO emissions through advanced lean burn combustion technology, eliminating the need for water injection – a cooling process using a water spray which can cause corrosion or pre-ignition within an engine.

The DLE pre-mixer was manufactured in seven months, which, according to Siemens, is a significantly shorter production time-frame for a complex component that traditionally involves 20 parts and casting and assembly methods. With additive manufacturing, the DLE pre-mixer required only two parts and its lead time was reduced by an estimated 70%.

With tight tolerances and functionality in high load and high-temperature environments, the DLE pre-mixer successfully performed fuel transitions, CO emissions reductions were realized, and full power was achieved with no measurable combustion dynamics or noise.

3D printing the DLE pre-mixer also improved the geometry of the component, allowing a better fuel-air mix. Navrotsky added,“Our achievements using AM are paving the way for greater agility in the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of power generation components.”

Siemens' aeroderivative SGT-A05 gas turbine. Image via Siemens.
Siemens’ aeroderivative SGT-A05 gas turbine. Image via Siemens.

Additive manufacturing integration in advanced engines

According to Siemens, more than 120 engines are successfully utilizing DLE technology to reduce CO emissions. Last year Siemens’ Materials Solutions received the 2017 3D Printing Industry Application of the Year Award for its superalloy gas turbine blades. The additive manufactured gas turbine blades reduced lead times and are used within the Siemens SGT-400 gas turbine.

This industry milestone is one of many to come from Siemens. In a recent interview with Armin Truebel, Siemens Product Manager for Industrial Steam Turbine Service, Truebel told 3D Printing Industry more about Siemens’ 3D printed oil sealing rings, which have become the first metal 3D printed parts to be used in an industrial steam turbine.

“Additive manufacturing offers a degree of design freedom that allowed us to implement design features that could not have been realized otherwise.”

“For us, it is important that, with the implementation of new design features, we can achieve better performance in manufacturing and operation through additive manufacturing.”

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Featured image shows the 3D printed DLE pre-mixer. Photo via Siemens.