Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
On June 17th 2020, multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) of Boston, Massachusetts announced that three companies would be engaging in a multi-year long collaboration to develop wind turbines that would measure up to a record-breaking 200m tall, made possible via concrete bases that could be 3D printed on site. They were:
- GE division GE Renewable Energy of Paris, France,
- Self-proclaimed “strive towards full automation in the construction industry by designing robotic 3D construction printers and automated processes for the building site” company COBOD of Copenhagen, Denmark,
- Multinational building materials manufacturer LafargeHolcim of Jona, Switzerland.
(COBOD is short for construction of buildings on demand.) GE proclaimed that the first prototype turbine base was successfully 3D printed back in October 2019 and measured 10m tall.
Traditionally, wind turbines are made from steel and precast concrete. GE argued that this limits them to being circa 100m tall, as a wind turbine of this height requires a base so wide as to be impractically expensive to transport. In addition, GE claimed that a 5 MW, 80m tall wind turbine would typically generate 15.1 GWh of energy a year. In comparison, they claimed that a 5 MW, 160m tall wind turbine would typically generate 20.2 GWh of energy a year.
However, GE Renewable Energy would not be the first to investigate 3D printing’s potential uses in wind power. In November 2017, RCAM Technologies of Irvine, California was awarded $1.2 million from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for the development and testing of what the CEC referred to as “a reinforced concrete 3D printing technology that will be used to manufacture high performance, ultra-tall, low-cost wind turbine towers onsite.” (RCAM Technologies describe themselves as “Founded to develop concrete additive manufacturing technologies initially for wind energy technologies.”)
On the same day as GE’s announcement, RCAM technologies proclaimed that the CEC had awarded them another $3 million to further their wind turbine research. It is unknown if this announcement being on the same day as GE’s was just a coincidence.
3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.
Disclaimer: Featured image of “Wind turbine 1888 Charles Brush” is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1925, and if not then due to lack of notice or renewal.