NLR has produced a metal compressor wheel for a microturbine using 3D printing techniques, and successfully tested the compressor wheel at speeds of up to 200,000 revolutions per minute. NLR has taken a first step towards 3D-printed rotating components. This is a challenge because these components are subjected to critical loads during use.
NLR measured an existing compressor wheel using a 3D optical scanner, and then redesigned it using special software. The redesign was aimed at ensuring printability and weight reduction rather than any aerodynamic improvements. During the redesign process, calculations were performed to determine the stress levels due to the weight reduction under the expected operating conditions.
The redesigned 3D-printed compressor wheel was produced in a titanium alloy. After being subjected to heat treatment, mechanical finishing and balancing, the wheel was tested in NLR’s microturbine testing facility at rotational speeds of up to 200,000 revolutions per minute.
With this new 3D-printed compressor wheel, NLR’s Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology Centre (MAMTeC) in Marknesse, the Netherlands, offers advanced 3D scanning and printing capabilities.