In a joint project, Siemens and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have now developed a faster production process based on selective laser melting (SLM). Components are manufactured in a modular way in the new process chain, resulting in additional benefits.
Last year, Siemens commissioned its Clean Energy Center, a new combustion test center in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin. The center plays a major role in developing and refining gas turbines as a facility for conducting realistic tests on various turbine components with liquid or gaseous fuels.
Experts from the Siemens gas turbine manufacturing plant in Berlin and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, Germany, have now developed a laser-based technology that considerably speeds up the manufacturing process for turbine vanes slated for the hot gas area of the engine. To withstand the high temperatures over long periods of time, the turbine vanes require complex internal cooling structures. Similar to using a 3D printer, special alloys are melted by laser on a powder bed. The components are then built up layer by layer.
This modular production of turbine blades offers significant potential for other components as well. It would make it possible to connect cast and SLM-made parts, leaving just the complex or variable parts to be produced using SLM.