Siemens has invested 200 million Swedish Krona (€21.4 million) on a production facility for metal 3D printed components in Finspång, Sweden.
The workshop will employ 20 operators and engineers and will be used for rapid prototyping, manufacturing and repair of components in Siemens’ series of industrial gas turbines, for the power industry.
This is a long-term investment to build up the skills and experience to lead to new ideas and developments in the field, industry research provider IDTechEx stated.
The facility features Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) machines from German AM system provider, EOS, which cost around $850,000 each.
EOS machines are already being used for the mass production of medical implants and flight critical parts in aerospace, including by GE Aviation. IDTechEx research for its report '3D Printing of Metals 2015-2025' predicts around 1,000 of these types of 3D printers will be sold in 2016, with a total market value of $540 million.
Siemens is looking to develop new and improved components for the industrial gas turbine SGT-800 significantly faster, and shorten repair times from months to weeks.
Gas turbines are technically challenging to produce. They are complex and require broad knowledge in materials science, automation, and manufacturing. They must withstand high temperatures (up to melting point of iron), rapid temperature changes (up to above 1,000°C in seconds) and high centrifugal forces as blades reach sonic speeds.
3D printing allows lattice structures with better heat transfer and fuel mixing, better coating adhesion, and new alloys. Siemens has demonstrated lattice structure in blades, fuel strainers and compressor impellers.