By Industrial Print Staff
Part 3 of 3
Three-dimensional (3D) printing is used for a number of reasons, includingrepair of certain components in a larger build. Metal parts in particular benefit from this. Prima Additive, a manufacturer of industrial systems for metal additive manufacturing (AM) applications, recently worked with customer Enel just for this reason.
Enel is a global energy leader, and utilizes a Prima Additive Laserdyne 795 printer at its power plant in Santa Barbara, Arezzo, Italy. The printer uses direct energy deposition (DED) technology. Prima Additive also offers powder bed fusion technology.
The energy leader wanted to utilize the Laserdyne 795 to repair structural components. “One of the most promising and economically viable applications in the additive world is the repair of structural components—the option to re-use a worn component, and therefore avoid manufacturing a new one, can save a remarkable amount of resources, reduce costs and create new business opportunities,” notes Prima Additive.
First, Prima Additive and Enel jointly studied the repair application. After a thorough evaluation of various cases based on techno-economical criteria, Enel selected a centrifugal impeller used in the geothermal production site—a particular component that usually wears down after one year of continuous operation. Normally, the company produces a new one to replace it. However, with the Laserdyne 795 DED machine and the support of Prima Additive, Enel repaired the component and set up a qualification procedure to integrate the repaired impellers in operation conditions.
The repair strategy started by rectifying the damaged component up to a flat and homogeneous surface on all blades, on which the material has been added—thanks to the DED technology—to reconstruct the original shape of the component.
The application engineers at Prima Additive also evaluated different manufacturing approaches, and using MasterCam software and AMXpress plug-in suggested carrying out the repair activity using 3+2 axes for the positioning of the component. Once the repair procedures for the piece were defined, 17-4PH steel alloy was chosen as the material because it features high mechanical strength and an increased resistance to wear.
It took two-and-a-half hours to completely repair the impeller, followed by Enel’s activities to analyze and certify the outcome of the process. After the material carry over, Enel mills the component, restores the piece to its original geometry, and uses it as a spare part.
After this successful implementation, Prima Additive and Enel continue to work to identify and explore new applications that fully leverage the opportunities AM technology offers to repair components and reduce consumption, costs and environmental impact at once, opening the way to new and sustainable business models.
May2023, Industrial Print Magazine