Applications

Microturbines

By leveraging VELO3D’s technology for microturbines, dozens of parts can be consolidated into a single unit. Designers can implement the optimal design that yields turbines that are more efficient, with a higher power density, and a lower weight. This increases the applications where gas turbines will compete, creating a new wave of innovation in power generation.

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40X durability improvement

10X higher power density

50% lighter

61 parts consolidated into one

Application Benefit

A gas turbine generates thrust or electricity by converting liquid fuel and air into mechanical energy. The pressure and temperature of the air increases prior to entering the combustor, where it is mixed and ignited with fuel. The energy from the combustion is then converted to mechanical energy across the turbine, which drives the compressor, as well as the fan blades (for thrust) or the generator (for electricity).

Traditionally manufactured through a combination of casting, 5 axis machining, brazing, or welding dozens of subcomponents, gas turbines tend to be complex, expensive and difficult to manufacture.

However, by leveraging VELO3D‘s technology, dozens of parts can be consolidated into a single unit. Designers can implement the optimal design that yields turbines that are more efficient, with a higher power density, and a lower weight. This increases the applications where gas turbines will compete, creating a new wave of innovation in power generation.

My design team is freed from the constraints of traditional manufacturing and even existing metal AM technologies such that they can focus purely on defining the geometry needed to maximize performance and differentiation.
- Roger Smith, Founder and CEO, Sierra Turbines

Microturbine Design Challenges

To achieve higher gas turbine performance, designers look to optimize many variables: combustion temperature, combustion pressure, fuel mixing, and advanced turbine blade cooling techniques.  This leads to an optimal design that contains complex internal channels, thin walls, and complex lattice structures.

To manufacture these devices traditionally, engineers utilize a multi-step manufacturing process that compromises many of these optimal geometries and features, is manually intensive, and takes a long time.

Conventional Additive Manufacturing

Conventional AM systems struggle with printing Gas Turbines for a few reasons. First, conventional systems struggle with part geometries that create angles of less than 45 degrees (between the part and the build plate). This means that as surfaces reach horizontal angles, conventional printers require supports to hold the part down and avoid warping. For many gas turbines, supports are not an option as they would prove impossible to remove.

Furthermore, conventional printers are unable to print higher aspect ratio parts that can improve heat transfer. Printing an aspect ratio of above 8:1 increases the risk of a part collision with the recoater blade (the mechanism responsible for applying a fresh layer of powder to build the part). Designs that feature thin walls and even some lattice structures would be risky to print on these systems.

For these reasons, conventional printers tend to print designs with accessible surfaces, like brackets. To print designs with complex internal geometries and thin wall features, designers and engineers are turning to the most advanced solution on the market.

VELO3D SupportFree Processing

SupportFree metal powder-bed fusion from VELO3D provides the ability to print horizontal (down to zero degrees between the part and the build plate) surfaces without supports and with a high quality surface finish, eliminating the need to post process internal support structures. This achieves much higher quality internal channels and flow paths for gas or fluids.

Furthermore, VELO3D’s non-contact recoater floats over the powder bed, reducing the risk of a part collision. The VELO3D solution also features sensors that continually monitor the height of the part and powder bed to assure a uniform layer of powder and prevent recoater collisions. This means that designers can print up to 3000:1 aspect ratio (virtually limitless) on the VELO3D solution. Thin walls down to 300 micron in thickness, combined with high aspect ratio capability unlock many new designs that optimize heat transfer.

Contact the Metal AM Experts at Velo3D

VELO3D unlocks the power of SupportFree Metal AM Printing for mission-critical applications. With the Sapphire Metal AM Printer, Flow print preparation software, and Assure quality assurance and control system, engineers have the means to print the impossible for higher-performing solutions.

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