MAN Diesel & Turbo announced it is equipping its gas turbines with components produced through additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.
“As of now, we are the first manufacturer in the world to use complex 3-D-printed metallic components not only for test runs but also for serial production,” said CEO Dr. Uwe Lauber. “After a decade of research and development we are proud that we have been able to make this significant step forward. The future technology of 3-D printing allows us to offer our customers even better products.”
According to Dr. Roland Herzog, head of Material Technology in the Strategic Business Unit Turbomachinery, “Additive manufacturing offers huge potential for our product range, especially when it comes to the production of gas turbine components. Additively manufactured guide vane segments that we are now incorporating into our type MGT6100 gas turbines have proven particularly suitable.
“The approval for serial production is the result of intense cooperation with highly specialized suppliers and development partners such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology.”
In order to exploit the potential of the technology further, MAN Diesel & Turbo is currently investing in the MAN Center for Additive Manufacturing (MANCAM), a product and location-independent expert center based at the company’s turbomachinery works in Oberhausen, Germany. Design specialists, materials experts and production engineers are being brought together at MANCAM to extend the benefits of additive manufacturing to addition components and products, such as compressor impellers or engine fuel nozzles.
“We are currently investing some €2.6 million in order to utilize the numerous benefits of additive manufacturing along the whole value chain,” Herzog said. “As well as shortened development cycles, 3-D printing gives more freedom for innovative, superior component designs, reduces production and delivery times and enables us service-wise to produce spare parts on call.”
Additive manufacturing covers a range of advanced production processes in various industries, including machine and vehicle manufacturing, the aerospace industry and medical technology. Along with plastic materials, there are now processes, such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM), that enable 3-D printing using metallic materials. Depending on factors such as lot sizes and material costs, these can provide numerous benefits over conventional production processes along the whole value chain of a product – from development and production through to maintenance and service.
“The standardized use of additive manufacturing is a strategic milestone for MAN Diesel & Turbo,” said Lauber, who is both MAN Diesel & Turbo’s CEO and chief technology officer. “3-D printing gives us clear competitive advantages in terms of our products supporting the decarbonization of industry and power generation. The techniques considerably reduce the path from an innovative design to a finished product.
“The digital data from our R&D departments can be converted into better products more quickly than before, while customers are supported throughout the entire product lifecycle with 3-D-printing-based services.”