Turbine components are quite complex to produce. In addition to the long lead time they require, manufacturers usually leverage foundry and machining for their manufacturing, encountering therefore significant technical risks at each stage.
Poly-Shape revisited the manufacturing of a Francis Turbine while leveraging additive manufacturing. The French specialist of metal additive manufacturing technologies has already a certain experience in the manufacturing of parts used in demanding industries such as aerospace and automotive.
As part of this project, the company first designed a Francis Demo Wheel and handled the manufacturing with a DED-P technique (Directed Energy Deposition – Powder).
As a reminder, Directed Energy Deposition or DED is a type of additive manufacturing process that uses a coaxial feed of metal material of powder or wire. These materials are led to an energy source (usually consisting of a laser) to create a melt pool on a base substrate.
In this specific case, the operator produced the raw part in less than 3 days and without tooling. Layer upon layer, both the geometry and the material were generated. The AM technique leveraged does not allow supports – which makes it easy to fabricate complex geometries (overhang area,
hollow structures, etc.). Furthermore, another advantage of this technique is the ability to combine either standard materials or high value materials.
According to Poly-Shape, by minimizing the needed allowance (typically < 1,5 mm), it was easier to reduce the part machining to finishing operation. If the part presents hard to access areas, therefore, the DED and the machining production must be sequenced in order to allow the release of the tool accessibility.
With the support of its partners, the French company will manufacture Energy and Aerospace turbines in a fully finished and operable state.
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