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Last year, GE bought two 3D printing firms for more than $1 billion and introduced its first 3D-printed aircraft engine component into service. Now, Siemens has said it has successfully of gas turbine blades produced by a 3D printing firm Materials Solution that it bought last year.
Siemens said the blades were tested at full load conditions at 13,000 rpm at temperatures of more than 1,250 C.
3D printing or additive manufacturing is among the exciting new technologies being brought into turbomachinery manufacturing. It involves making a three-dimensional object by creating layers and adding one layer upon the other unlike the conventional manufacturing process in which the component is cast and machined. Additive manufacturing enables more complex designs including cooling holes which can make a significant difference to gas turbine performance through improved blade design. The blades in the Siemens test were made from a powder of high-performing polycrystalline nickel superalloy.