Stork Turbo Blading - The Search for Innovative Manufacturing Methods
STORK TURBO BLADING - SEARCHING FOR INNOVATIVE MANUFACTURING METHODS
3D PRINTING OF POLYMERS FOR CNC AND GRINDING FIXTURES
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 acquired an Ultimaker 2+ to test this very purpose and explore the possibilities of 3D Printing in-house. This may lead to further development programs and investments in 3D printing technology in the future to ensure Stork’s leading position in the blading market.
3D FEM (Filament Extrusion Method) Printing of Polymers is a process with a relatively high accuracy (± 0.05mm) and as such has great potential to reduce the time needed to manufacture fixtures and production supporting components. In addition close cooperation with accredited external companies involved metal 3D printing enables Stork to explore the next steps in 3D printing technology. An exciting and promising topic!
While Polymers generally have a lower tensile strength then 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 accomodate forces generated by CNC grinding and milling.
The image above displays a theoretical typical polymer chain. Polymers don't form a clear crystalline lattice, instead they form a chain of polymer molecules facing all directions when the material solidifies after cooling. This applies to all Polymer application techniques, including for example injection molding. Because of the irregularities in the crystalline structure, the polymers exhibit different mechanical properties depending on the length of the polymer chain and the molecular consistancy.
The FEM Proces is a proces in which the polymer is pushed through a heated nozzle and extruded onto a buildplate. The nozzle moves in the X & Y axis and the buildplate moves in the Z axis in order to create a 3D point system within which the printer operates. This creates layers upon layers of material being extruded onto the buidlplate creating your desired model.
In the upcoming months Stork will conduct tests concerning the 3D printing of fixtures in polymer to determnie 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 mechanical and chemical properties of both polymers and metals.
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