Stork is always looking for new and innovative ways to manufacture Turbo Machinery Components, and 3D Printing is a method that we are likely to see more and more of in the future. In light of this, Stork has recently started to test this very purpose and explore the possibilities of 3D Printing both in-house and with partners, with metals and polymers. This may lead to further development programs and investments in 3D printing technology in the future to ensure Stork’s leading position in the turbo machinery parts and services market. The image above shows promising initial first results with metal printed small steam turbine blades.
3D Printing has great potential to reduce the time needed to manufacture all sorts of components such as blades, fixtures and production supporting components. In addition to our own research, we are in close cooperation with accredited external companies involved in metal 3D printing. This enables Stork to explore the next steps in 3D printing technology. An exciting and promising topic for us to explore and in which we are immensely interested.
While Polymers generally have a lower tensile strength than most metals, we are interested to see if widely used polymers such as ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) and PLA (Polylactic-Acid) are rigid and strong enough to accommodate forces generated by CNC grinding and milling. The same also applies to operations that will have to be done on the 3D printed metal blades to ensure a smooth surface finish, such as automatic grinding of turbine blades.
In the upcoming months Stork will conduct tests concerning 3D printing to determine the feasibility of this method for blade manufacturing. Further Research and Development is needed in the field of additive manufacturing to gain a better understanding of 3D Printed parts, in terms of mechanical and chemical properties of both polymers and metals. Subscribe to our newsletter to follow the latest development of Stork in this field, and to hold you over until our next Blading Bulletin we would like to share evidence with you that a functional 3D printed turbine already exists.