Lowering Cost and Reducing Production Time, ProJet 3D Printing Lets Turbine Technologies Soar

Making test parts using traditional mold manufacturing techniques is risky business. Take turbine engine components, which traditionally require weeks and tens of thousands of dollars to finish. The designs upon which these parts are based go through extensive cycle analysis, computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis and solid modeling, but there’s always the chance that alterations may be required due to a mistake or change in specifications. In any case, if a design change is suddenly required, your shiny new test part is now an expensive, time-eating piece of scrap.

In addition, with traditional techniques iterative design and testing become virtually impossible. Turbine blades especially may require several tests, as they have to be twisted precisely. Even a few degrees off and they won’t function. But when one part costs upwards of $20,000, it’s not feasible to produce several parts for testing alone.

Standout turbine engine makers are finding ways to make changes and maximize iterative design by producing parts quickly, accurately and at a low cost. Wisconsin-based Turbine Technologies and its gas turbine development sister company, Kutrieb Research, get it right by using 3D Systems ProJet™ 3D printing technology to produce multiple wax patterns, which they then cast in super alloys and test until they find the right design.

“All the engineering and FEA software in the world can’t replace actually having physical test models,” says Toby Kutrieb, the company’s vice president. For a company that considers physical testing its linchpin, the ProJet wax patterns are a huge boost to creating an R&D process that doesn’t rely on expensive tooling. 

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Original Article Posted Here.