M&H to Supply 3D Printed Turbine Blades for US Power Plants

Published on June 21, 2024 by Isaac B.

With the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the USA sealed the increased expansion of renewable energies in 2022. Since then, the available funds have been used to expand green alternatives. Last year, for example, solar systems with a capacity of 33 gigawatts were installed, and annual growth of 14% is expected in the US renewable energy sector by 2028. Despite focusing on sustainable energy, the USA appears to be working on a plan B for dark phases. There is an increased demand for stationary, gas-powered small power plants. For example, aircraft engines can be converted to fulfill these purposes and stabilize the US power grid in an emergency. But how does an aircraft engine become a power plant? This requires extensive specialist knowledge of materials, aviation components, and the prevailing standards. The company M&H from Ilz in Austria brings this to the table, enabling it to secure a cooperation deal worth millions.

The Austrian company focuses on 3D printing and CNC machining and has experience producing parts for racing and aviation. Its combination of expertise in 3D metal printing and high-performance materials has enabled M&H to prevail against international competition. As a strategic partner, M&H will now accompany the transformation of the turbines.

M&H specializes in 3D metal printing and CNC machining and has entered a new partnership thanks to its expertise. (Photo Credits: M&H)

As part of the collaboration, the company will supply intricate components for stationary gas turbines and provide related services. In the initial pilot phase, M&H plans to produce and deliver 168 additively manufactured turbine blades for the exhaust system of the turbine unit to Texas by autumn. Success in this phase will likely lead to an extension of the contract until 2031, with a projected delivery of over 25,000 components by then. M&H has confirmed that production is currently in progress, with initial parts already successfully delivered. “With the first prototypes delivered, we were immediately able to demonstrate our qualities and surpass existing best performances in terms of precision and rigidity. Also because we have one of the largest 3D metal printers in Austria with our SLM800,” says Jochen Wagner, Sales Manager at M&H.

To manufacture the complex structural elements with internal cavities, M&H uses Inconel 718, a highly complex heat-resistant nickel-chromium alloy that also requires pre-deforming as a process step. “During manufacturing, materials such as Inconel 718 can be deformed by heat or mechanical forces. This technique preforms the material to retain the correct shape and size after the processing steps,” explains M&H Managing Director Patrick Herzig.

As a 3D printing pioneer, M&H has already built up extensive knowledge of technologies and materials and has asserted itself in numerous projects. However, in addition to manufacturing, M&H is also tasked with material analysis, such as chemical testing, tensile testing, crack testing, and density cube testing. “These tests are crucial to ensure that all requirements, which are based on aviation industry standards, are met and that the component quality remains at a high level,” adds Herzig. Here, too, M&H was able to draw on its wealth of experience from other industries in which such tests are commonplace.

M&H has already achieved numerous successful projects, but securing the new order in the double-digit million range marks a significant milestone for the company. “This collaboration not only emphasizes our expertise in the field of 3D metal printing, but also strengthens our position on the international market,” Herzig is pleased to say. You can find out more about M&H here.

In Ilz, M&H has a high-performance machine park, including the SLM 800, one of the largest 3D metal printers in Austria, which is used to produce the components that are then delivered to Texas. (Photo Credits: M&H)

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*Cover Photo Credits: Lueflight

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