DOE Funds 3D Printing of Wind Blade Tooling Program

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Oct 13, 2023

Tags: Announcements, Purdue, LSAM, Dimensional Innovations, LSAM Additive Printers, Techmer PM, LSAM AP

The Thermwood LSAM Additive Manufacturing LaboratoryPurdue's Thermwood LSAM Research Lab includes an LSAM AP 105 Printer and LSAM Trim 105 5 Axis CNC router.

Award to Develop Additive Manufacturing of Modular Wind Blades

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an award of $2,849,000 to the Composites Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC) of Purdue University and its industry partners, including Thermwood, TPI Composites Inc.Dassault Systèmes, Dimensional Innovations and Techmer PM.

The DOE-funded Purdue program, “Additive Manufacturing of Modular Tools with Integrated Heating for Large-Scale Wind Blade Manufacturing,” is led by Eduardo Barocio, director of the Composites Additive Manufacturing and Simulation (CAMS) Industrial Consortium.

Eduardo Barocio, director of the Composites Additive Manufacturing and Simulation (CAMS) Industrial Consortium

Eduardo Barocio, director of the Composites Additive Manufacturing and Simulation (CAMS) Industrial Consortium

“The primary goal of the program is to develop the foundation for automation in manufacturing of tooling for large-scale wind blades that can accommodate continuous changes in blade geometry and scale,” Barocio said. “This will be accomplished through modular construction, wherein modules are 3D printed with carbon fiber/thermoplastic composites by a technology called extrusion deposition additive manufacturing, which was first developed at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

Specific targets for the program include developing a module design for wind blades equal to or greater in length than 80 meters; reducing the time required to manufacture and assemble wind blade tooling by at least 40% over conventional tool manufacture; enhancing tool performance by at least 15%; effecting weight reductions of by a minimum of 25% over conventional tools; and lowering the manufacturing cost of a wind blade tool by at least 35%.

Barocio is founder and director of the Thermwood LSAM (Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing) Research Lab at the Indiana Manufacturing Institute in Purdue Research Park. He is also founding director of the Composites Additive Manufacturing and Simulation Industrial Consortium, whose mission is to shape the future of large-scale additive manufacturing by providing education, simulation tools, characterization and best practices.

“The proposed program provides the foundation for automated manufacturing technology in wind blade tooling manufacture,” Barocio said. “These same technologies can be applied to manufacturing of all the elements of the wind energy system and, as such, the program provides a pioneering development that can leverage technology within the United States for a major source of clean energy, wind.”

The program will develop and demonstrate seven specific innovations. These include automating the 3D printing of large-scale modules and developing robust joining technology and inline heating elements deposition for conduction heating. Others include 3D printed cooling channels for convective cooling; new composite materials systems for economy and performance; support frame weight reduction; and tool deformation prediction and control, with decision making by a digital twin for 3D printing design and manufacturing.

Overall, the DOE awarded $30 million for 13 projects across 10 states that will reshape the design, materials and sustainability of large wind blades for offshore and land-based applications.  Large wind blades face significant challenges in design and materials, particularly for offshore applications. The selected projects will tackle these challenges, focusing on sustainability, efficiency and technological advancements to make wind energy more viable and effective.

Advanced lightweight composite materials have emerged as pivotal in enhancing wind power generation and vehicular applications. The DOE projects were picked for their potential to bolster the manufacturability and robustness of these composite materials, which are essential to the future success of wind energy technologies. The projects focus on three primary challenges: large wind blade additive manufacturing, additive manufacturing of wind turbine components and advanced manufacturing, materials and sustainability for large wind blades.

“These projects, alongside the Purdue program, will address the remaining challenges in wind turbine manufacturing and build on previous work in automation, digitalization, wind blade sustainability and modular blade construction and joining,” said R. Byron Pipes, executive director of the Composites Manufacturing Simulation Center at Purdue. “Successful demonstration of automation in the manufacture of alternate energy systems can enhance their wider use while sustaining the industry in the United States.”

Dimensional Innovations now has Kansas City’s biggest 3-D printer

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, May 13, 2019

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, 3D printing, LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, Additive Manufacturing, Dimensional Innovations, Kansas City

Dimensional Innovations now has Kansas City’s biggest 3-D printer

Overland Park-based Dimensional Innovations unveiled its newest piece of equipment, a $2.2 million 3-D printer and five-axis router that can make items 10 feet wide, 20 feet long and 5 feet high.

Dimensional Innovations now owns the largest 3-D printer in the Kansas City area.

Dimensional Innovations now owns the largest 3-D printer in the Kansas City area.

©2019 Kansas City Buiness Journal.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission

(Note this article was originally published on May 2nd, 2019, here)

Produced by Thermwood, the equipment is known as a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine. It can produce huge components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials. It’s the only one of its kind in the Kansas City area and one of only a handful currently in use in the U.S.

“Within the design, architecture and construction space, we’re not aware of anyone else who has this capability,” Dimensional Innovations CEO Tucker Trotter said. “There is not really someone else we can look to for examples on how to use this equipment, so we’re going to have to define that. It puts pressure on our team because there aren’t answers yet, but it also opens up incredible opportunities.”

Trotter said the purchase of the LSAM was driven by a secret project DI isn't allowed to discuss at this time, for production of a large-scale, iconic element. It had limitations on weight, needed to be prefabricated so it could be assembled in the field, had to be strong enough to meet wind load and had fire-proofing requirements.

“I went into the discussion for this project thinking it was really not a good fit for us,” Trotter said. “I couldn’t see how we could do it. But the culture at DI is so cool that we had people here who didn’t take no for an answer and spoke up saying they thought we could do it and here’s how. It started as a crazy idea, but now that we’ve got this equipment, I think it’s really going to advance who we are and how we’re seen by a lot of people.”

The company's growth made the addition possible. DI's business had outgrown its headquarters at 3421 Merriam Drive in Overland Park, so it moved the sign fabrication business to a new shop at 15500 W. 108th St. in Lenexa. That created room at the headquarters, allowing the company to buy the LSAM. It also is allowing DI to start building out about 50 new offices inside the headquarters, creating room to hire more designers and sales people.

DI has also been expanding into other cities, opening offices in Atlanta, Minneapolis and, most recently, Los Angeles.

“The smaller satellite offices have been low risk, and they’ve been very successful,” Trotter said. “We like that and will continue to do that. It puts our people and brainpower closer to projects.”

It also helps the company attract more talent, which in turn leads to more work.

About Dimensional Innovations

Dimensional Innovations - Dimensional Innovations is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary firm that creates dynamic, engaging and interactive solutions that bring brands to life.  DI helps businesses develop exceptional brand experiences to captivate and engage their target market. Works with clients that include 50,000 seat stadiums and history museums to create experiences customers will love. Focuses on the sports, corporate, student life and entertainment industries.

More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Much of the technology used in Thermwood’s LSAM machines and print process is completely new. Thermwood has already received numerous patents on these revolutionary developments and many more are in the works. In addition to the projects already announced, many other exciting results that LSAM has already achieved are covered by non-disclosure agreements and must be kept secret. LSAM is truly state-of-the-art in the exciting new world of large scale additive manufacturing.

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM