3D printing could lower tidal development costs

BAAM 3D-Printer (Photo: AMO, US Department of Energy)
BAAM 3D-Printer (Photo: AMO, US Department of Energy)

The application of 3D printing techniques might make it possible to reduce the research and production costs for tidal energy industry.

Demonstrations have shown that additive manufacturing, a term used to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, can lead to cost-savings within the product development cycle for offshore renewable industries, including tidal energy and offshore wind, according to Offshore Wind Infrastructure Application Lab (OWI-Lab).

The example OWI-Lab lists is the 3D printing of a mold for the turbine blades, used in wind energy and tidal energy applications, where the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), part of the US Department of Energy, conducted the research into the use of 3D printed sections of almost 2 meters which can be used to make large molds to produce a full blade, which for research purposes, can be more than 12 meters long.

3D-printed blade mold (Photo: AMO, US DoE)
3D-printed blade mold (Photo: AMO, US DoE)

Once assembled, the gigantic 3D printed mold had an extremely uniform surface, OWI-Lab states, perfect for manufacturing wind turbine blades or tidal generator blades at a lower cost than using the traditional production methods.

AMO team used the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D printer at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, USA, as it is suitable for the projects requiring larger 3D capacity.

OWI-Lab is an R&D initiative which aims to initiate and support innovation projects related to offshore wind energy. It has been implemented and coordinated by Sirris, the collective centre of the Belgian technological industry.

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