How LFAM will make GE’s Haliade-X record turbines even more powerful

With blade diameter measuring more than two football fields, GE Renewables’ Haliade-X turbines are already the largest and most powerful in the world, capable of generating as much as 14 MW of energy. The ability to 3D print the turbine’s concrete base on-site, for direct transportation into the final at-sea location, will enable even larger systems to be built and deployed.


This approach is expected to enable the production of much taller wind turbines because turbine producers will not be hindered by transport limitations—today, the width of the base cannot exceed 4.5 meters for transportation reasons, which limits the height of the turbine. By increasing the height, the generation of power per turbine can also be increased substantially: for instance, a 5 MW turbine measuring 80 meters generates about 15.1 GWh a year. The same turbine measuring 160 meters would generate 20.2 GWh per year, an increase of 33%. How that scale is expected to become even greater, with new turbines reaching heights of 260 meters and even more.

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How 3D printing can help power the energy industry

Using additive manufacturing to make parts big and small could help utilities save time and money.

It’s a question that manufacturers face constantly: What’s the best way to produce the most items with the least amount of money, while maintaining the highest possible quality? 

Over the past few decades, 3D printing has presented a potential solution to that problem, but only recently has the technology seen widespread development. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing has so far been most useful for companies developing and testing new products, allowing them to make relatively low-cost prototypes. 

Seeing the potential benefits, organizations around the globe are investing more in the technology. A study from Sculpteo found that in 2018, companies increased their investments in 3D printing by 70 percent, up from just 47 percent in 2017.

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Hybrid 3D Printing and its applications in wind energy

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is the production process in which objects are built up from the bottom, layer by layer. This can be combined with conventional or subtractive manufacturing to optimize wind energy production. This combination is called hybrid manufacturing.

Why Hybrid 3D Printing?

The use of small wind turbines could go up greatly, especially when it comes to disaster relief sites or rural areas.

The use of small wind turbines could go up greatly, especially when it comes to disaster relief sites or rural areas.

However, the rising prices of nickel-based alloys, titanium alloys and stainless steel, coupled with the required complex geometry of the components, high standards of product quality, extreme precision requirements for machined parts, the need for a higher speed of production, and a lower rate of rejection, make a better strategy crucial to making wind power affordable and accessible.

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