This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Teaming Up to Apply Advanced Manufacturing Methods to Wind Turbine Production
By Wind and Water Power Technologies Office Director Jose Zayas and Advanced Manufacturing Office Director Mark Johnson
Last spring, a 3D-printed replica Shelby Cobra, manufactured at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), visited the Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Now, the Energy Department's Wind Program and Advanced Manufacturing Office, ORNL, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and other organizations are partnering to apply this advanced manufacturing technology to the production of wind turbine blade molds.
By applying 3D printing to the manufacture of blade molds, it is possible to reduce costs and time associated with manufacturing, experiment with new capabilities, and improve design flexibility. Blades are some of the most important—yet costly—components of a wind turbine, so finding ways to reduce the cost of blade manufacturing will further reduce the costs of wind energy. To tackle this problem, we are working with our partners to apply 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to renewable energy technologies.
The processes currently used to manufacture utility-scale wind turbine blades—which average over 150 feet in length—are complex, energy-intensive, and time-consuming. Trends toward larger blades, coupled with the drive for global competitiveness, are inspiring us to explore new manufacturing technologies. See the EERE Blog.