GE Renewable Energy, Fraunhofer IGCV and voxeljet have announced a research partnership to develop what is claimed to be the world’s largest 3D printer for offshore wind applications.
The Advance Casting Cell (ACC) 3D printer is currently under development and aims to streamline the production of key components of GE’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbine. The project involves the development of a new, large-format 3D printer capable of producing sand molds for casting the highly complex metal parts of different shapes and sizes that make up an offshore wind turbine nacelle.
The modular 3D printing process is based on voxeljet’s core “Binder-Jetting” technology and can be configured to print molds for castings up to 9.5 meters in diameter and 60-plus tons in weight.
The 3D printing process will reduce the time it takes to produce this pattern and mold from ten weeks or more to two weeks and is expected to reduce the product’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need to transport the large parts from a central manufacturing location.
Juan Pablo Cilia, Senior Additive Design Engineer at GE Renewable Energy, said: “The 3D printed molds will bring many benefits including improved casting quality through improved surface finish, part accuracy and consistency. Furthermore, sand binder jet molds or additive molds provide cost savings by reducing machining time and other material costs due to optimized design.
“This unprecedented production technology will be a game changer for production efficiency allowing localised manufacturing in high-cost countries, a key benefit for our customers looking to maximize the local economic development benefits of offshore wind.”