Turbo Speak: Turbo Printers

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Letter from the Editor

For nearly 20 years, I have been writing about computer technology. And for almost as long, I’ve been covering turbomachinery. So it’s fascinating to see both areas converging. Earlier issues introduced Big Data, greater use of analytics and the Industrial Internet which all borrow heavily from the IT field. Now we are seeing the latest wave. 3D printing, a.k.a. additive manufacturing, whereby you can print a metal component in three dimensions.

To many, this may seem as far off as flying cars, commercialized hydrogen fuel cells and the harnessing of anti-matter. But the reality is that 3D printing is booming in the power and oil & gas sectors. In a couple of years, it should transition from the early adopter stage to being a staple of OEM and aftermarket suppliers. After all, who does not want to be able to print a new impeller, fuel nozzle or blade within hours? You can read all about the 3D printing revolution in our cover story on page 14.

Show reports, too, feature heavily this month. We visited the CTOTF (p. 26) and WTUI (p. 34) user groups to learn the latest on operations and maintenance (O&M) for aeroderivatives and large frame turbines. One tidbit: a consequence of the U.S. shale gas boom is a marked deterioriation in gas quality. Those using gas from those sources are advised to pay attention to this factor or suffer potential turbine damage.

The WTUI show also provided the forum for Mark Axford to deliver his annual analysis of turbine orders trends. He breaks down the worldwide picture, the U.S. scene, how aeroderivative orders compare to large frame units, and how combined cycle plants fare when compared to orders for simple cycle units (p. 18).


Our Myth Busters opine on the thorny subject of industry standards and specifications (p.40). Just like civic codes, federal regulations and about anything else originated from a government, industry standards have become bloated. It’s reached the point where OEMs can’t keep up and many plant engineers don’t have the time to read them.

Meanwhile our Turbo Tips columnist delves into screw versus centrifugal compressors (p. 39). He is backed up by a supporting article on a similar subject on page 22.

Further matters of interest include a research study on the value of steam injection (p. 32), and a Q&A that features an executive from Ingersoll Rand (p. 36). Since IR acquired the centrifugal compressor assets of Cameron last year, we have been interested in finding out what the company plans to do with its new line of equipment. The Q&A tells you all about IR’s intentions and provides an overview of its other related offerings.

Our travels continue. In our next issue, you’ll have the chance to read about PowerGen EU in Amsterdam as well as the Turbo Expo in Montreal. Perhaps one day, we’ll be able to 3D print versions of ourselves so that we can stay at home and have our “other selves” cover these shows while we relax in the garden or on the beach. Maybe that’s as far fetched as printing an entire turbine. But who knows where this technology will lead us in the years ahead.