WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2016 - The Energy Department’s (DOE) Wind Program and Advanced Manufacturing OfficeOak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and others plan to apply 3-D printing to the production of wind turbine blade molds.

Turbine blades are some of the most important and costly components of a wind turbine, so reducing the cost of blade manufacturing will reduce the costs of wind energy. Using 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to produce the blade molds will reduce costs and time associated with manufacturing, improve design flexibility and allow experimentation with new capabilities, says DOE.

DOE’s ORNL and Cincinnati Inc. will develop a new additive manufacturing tool, the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, at Oak Ridge’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

The BAAM system, used to 3-D print a replica Shelby Cobra, is 500 to 1,000 times faster and capable of printing polymer components 10 times larger than today’s industrial additive machines.

The key objectives of this project are to use the BAAM machine to create molds for wind turbine systems and incorporate features and capabilities not available through other methods. In addition to demonstrating the additive manufacturing of wind turbine blade molds, other wind turbine components could benefit from this technology, says DOE.


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