GE researchers to investigate 3D printing of wind turbine blades

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GE Research, GE Renewable Energy, and LM Wind Power – a GE Renewable Energy business – have been awarded a grant from the US the Department of Energy to research the design and manufacture of 3D printed wind turbine blades. 

Under the agreement, the GE business units will team up with the Oakridge National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab to develop and demonstrate an integrated additive manufacturing process for novel high-performance blade designs for the future of large rotors.

The 25-month, $6.7M project will deliver a full-size blade tip ready to be structurally tested, as well as three blade tips that will be installed on a wind turbine.

Matteo Bellucci, GE Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Leader, said the proposed project would focus on low-cost thermoplastic skin coupled with printed reinforcement.

He said it would advance the competitiveness of both onshore and offshore wind energy when commercialised, by lowering manufacturing cost, increasing supply chain flexibility, providing lighter weight blades made with more recyclable materials.

“Additive Manufacturing can bring a step change in cost and performance competitiveness in the wind industry and help GE Renewable Energy support our customers in driving the energy transition farther and faster,” Mr Bellucci added.

Torben K. Jacobsen, Senior Director Advanced Technology Systems and Chief Engineering, LM Wind Power, said the award would help the company to accelerate its advanced design and manufacturing technology program.

“It is also a clear acknowledgement of the advanced technical engineering capabilities in our two technology hubs in Greenville, SC and New Orleans, LA,” he continued.

“We look forward to work with our partners in this program and deliver tangible outcomes including the use of recyclable materials and reduced manufacturing waste.”

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