ACC, a new era for AM sand casting in Haliade-X offshore wind turbines ”
GE (NYSE: GE), Fraunhofer IGCV and voxeljet AG (NASDAQ: VJET) has formed a research partnership to develop the Advance Casting Cell, or ACC (which will be the world’s largest system for 3D printing of sand) for use in the production of parts for offshore wind turbines . The machine will produce the world’s largest 3D printed sand molds via voxeljet’s AM (binder jet) sand casting process, to streamline production of key components of GE’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbines. With the ability to produce molds up to 9.5 meters in diameter and over 60 tonnes in weight, it truly marks a new era in additive sand casting.
The ACC 3D printer under development will receive financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and will be able to print molds to melt the gondola components of the GE Haliade-X, which can weigh each more than 60 tons. , reducing the time required to produce this pattern and mold from ten weeks or more to just two weeks. In addition, the use of the 3D printer is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of the product by eliminating the need to transport large parts from a central manufacturing site. The partners plan to launch the project in the third quarter of 2021, with the first printer trials starting in the first quarter of 2022.
GE Renewable Energy has already tested the use of 3D printing – using the concrete extrusion system developed by COBOD – to build on-site giant bases for offshore wind turbines such as the Haliade-X. There are many other ways that Haliade-X systems and other offshore wind turbines could benefit from large-format additive manufacturing processes, as we discussed in a recent article for our AM Focus 2021 Sustainability and related eBook.
The ACC project involves the development of a new large format 3D printer capable of producing sand molds for AM sand casting of very complex metal parts of different shapes and sizes that make up an offshore wind turbine nacelle. The modular 3D printing process, which is based on voxeljet’s core “Binder-Jetting” technology, can be configured to print molds for castings up to 9.5 meters in diameter and sizes over. 60 tons.
Juan Pablo Cilia, Senior Additive Design Engineer at GE Renewable Energy, said, “3D printed molds will bring many benefits including improved AM sand casting quality through surface finish, precision and consistency of parts improved. Additionally, sand binder jet molds or additive molds save money by reducing machining time and other material costs through optimized design. This unprecedented production technology will be a game-changer for production efficiency, enabling localized manufacturing in high cost countries, a key benefit for our customers looking to maximize the local economic development benefits of offshore wind.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composites and Processing Technology IGCV is responsible for matters of casting technology and materials as well as digital process monitoring. “We take a close look at thermal management during casting and will assess the ideal proportions of printing materials,” said Dr Daniel Günther, Head of Molding Processes and Molding Materials Department at Fraunhofer IGCV.
“In addition, we will develop and test new approaches to process monitoring as part of the project. Based on their previous experience, the team plans to significantly improve the environmental footprint of the processes involved in the production of the Haliade-X type wind turbines. This aspect of sustainability is a firmly established guiding principle of research at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, according to the director of the institute, Prof. Dr. Wolfram Volk, who adds: to save binder and activator, and to improve mechanical and thermal behavior during casting. By developing a process that conserves resources as much as possible, we want to help improve the environmental and financial balance in the manufacture of wind turbines.
Christian Traeger, director of marketing and sales at voxeljet, also commented on the ACC project: “The test mold we printed for GE in 2019 consisted of dozens of individual parts. With ACC, we aim to print a drastically reduced number of parts for the complete set. In addition, the mold can be optimized in terms of functionality and material consumption. This optimization makes possible completely new molding designs that can further improve turbine efficiency. “
“While off-site on-demand 3D printing offers many advantages for small quantities of molded parts, running an on-site 3D printing system takes full advantage of the technology. Considering the demand for offshore wind turbines, this will help a lot to meet project schedules and high market demands, ”added Dr Ingo Ederer, CEO of voxeljet. “With our productive binder jet technology combined with our experience in large format industrial 3D printing, we have served customers in the foundry industry for over 20 years. It is our mission to bring 3D printing into true industrial manufacturing and so we are very happy to be part of this revolutionary project.
The International Energy Agency3 has predicted that global offshore wind capacity will increase 15-fold by 2040, becoming a $ 1 trillion industry, thanks to lower costs, supportive government policies and progress. technologies like the one behind GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X offshore turbine. GE Renewable Energy has been selected to supply its Haliade-X turbine for 5.7 GW of projects in Europe and the United States. The company is a member of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and, within this framework, supports various initiatives aimed at increasing sustainable wind energy production.