First 3D-printed part in nuclear plant

Article by Staff Writer

SIEMENS has successfully installed a 3D-printed part in a nuclear power station, which the company says is a world first.

The part is a 108 mm impeller for a fire protection pump and was installed at the 730 MW Krško nuclear power plant, in Slovenia. The Krško plant produces more than 5,000 GWh/y and provides more than 25% of Slovenia’s electricity, and around 15% of Croatia’s. The original impeller had been in operation since the plant was commissioned in 1981, but its manufacturer has long gone out of business, so a new one could not be sourced. Siemens used 3D-printing to create a replacement instead.

Siemens experts in Slovenia created a digital model of the impeller, which was sent to its state-of-the-art additive manufacturing production facility in Finspång, Sweden, where the part was made using selective laser melting. It was made from stainless steel and the printing process took 30 hours in total. Once printed, the impeller was sandblasted, then machined and balanced.

Siemens worked with the nuclear power plant’s operations team to ensure the safety and reliability of the new part. Material testing and analysis over several months, including a CT scan, showed that the 3D-printed impeller had superior material properties to the original part.

The installation of the impeller is a particularly significant achievement due to the extremely stringent safety requirements in the nuclear industry. Krško is one of the highest-ranked European nuclear power plants in terms of safety.

“We continue to push forward our investments and cutting-edge advancements in additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This achievement at the Krško nuclear power plant is another example of how the digital transformation and the data-driven capabilities we have are impacting the energy industry in ways that really matter. Additive manufacturing's reduced lead times and faster production optimises parts replacement and creates real value for our customers,” said Tim Holt, CEO of Siemens Power Generation Services division.

Siemens and Krško nuclear power plant say they will continue to work together to look at advanced production techniques for parts that are difficult to produce using conventional methods.

Article by Staff Writer

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