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Siemens Oil and Gas CTO Dr. Vladimir Navrotsky shares upcoming projects in exclusive interview

"We are targeting 200,000 3D printed parts per year by 2023"

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Siemens is one of a select group of companies involved directly in the AM industry (through a number of activities that include both software and AM production services) and large industrial segments such as the oil and gas industry, specifically in the power generation segment with its Siemens Oil and Gas division.

This has led to some of the most relevant application cases for the adoption of AM in the production of oil and gas-related parts, including turbomachinery, impellers, burners and burner swirls. Siemens has applied AM technology for the repair of gas turbine components showing that the replacement of conventional repair with AM resulted in a significant reduction of repair time as well as modifications and upgrades. The company has also been manufacturing several turbine burners and burner components, optimizing the parts’ geometries through the use of AM.

With Siemens—among others—already in production of several parts for a growing number of oil and gas turbines (fuel nozzles, impellers, swirlers, gas turbine burners, heat shields and vanes), there is the potential for expansion into other components. AM is also being used for on-demand replacement and spare parts in combustion systems and turbomachinery. Another successful application of AM technology at Siemens is the manufacturing of an advanced burner swirl for the SGT-750 industrial gas turbine. In this case, AM was the only technology which enabled manufacturing of this design of the swirl.

Siemens Oil and Gas
Siemens 3D printed and validated the first gas turbine blade in 2017

The concept of “spare parts on demand” was launched by 3D printed SGT-1000F burners tips for a district power station in the Czech Republic. Another excellent example of the effective application of AM technology for the re-manufacturing of obsolete components was demonstrated by 3D printing a water pump impeller, part of the fire protection system at one of the nuclear power stations in Slovenia. In this case, the 3D model of the impeller was obtained by X-ray tomography followed by digital “repair” of the scanned model to original geometry and subsequent 3D printing including qualification.

We recently had the opportunity to speak about these and upcoming projects with Vladimir Navrotsky, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens Gas and Power, Service Distributed Generation and Oil & Gas, who has been with Siemens for over 20 years. Dr. Navrotsky has had a professional career spanning over 30 years which includes roles at the Central Institute of Aviation motors in Russia, ABB in Sweden and ALSTOM in Switzerland before arriving at Siemens. In many ways, Dr. Navrotsky is the mind behind the ongoing projects at Siemens and has a very clear vision of where AM in the oil and gas industry is headed, which he shared in this exclusive interview.

**This interview is one of several interviews conducted to produce the latest market report on additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry, published by SmarTech Analysis. The report is available here.

3dpbm: What types of oil and gas parts does Siemens print and expect to print in the future?

Siemens Oil and Gas
Siemens uses Additive Manufacturing to produce various turbine components. Like that Materials Solutions manufactures Siemens burner heads.

Dr. Vladimir Navrotsky: From the very beginning, we considered AM as an enabler and a key tool to reinforce our knowledge and competence for parts in power generation relating to oil and gas. This technology allows us to create very complex geometries to increase the efficiency of our products, extend their lifetime and make them more effective and more flexible in operation and maintenance. We rapidly moved into implementing AM for the development of some of our most complex components, in particular, turbine elements. This was the foundation of our activities and we were so successful that we rapidly moved into actual manufacturing, started from part repair activities.

3dpbm: Why is part repair such a key element of Siemens’ strategy for AM?

DVN: Part repair, in general, is a very important aspect of our business. We learned that by using AM we could offer our clients some of the most significant benefits in terms of product lifecycle and maintenance cost reductions. We applied this to the repair of complex gas turbine combustor elements, such as burners, and eventually also for fuel injectors of the SGT-600, SGT-700 and SGT-800 industrial gas turbines. It was shown that the replacement of conventional repair with AM resulted in a significant reduction of repair time. Moreover, modifications and upgrade opportunities could be incorporated in the repairs, extending the lifetime of these parts by up to 50%.

Siemens Oil and Gas
Siemens’ 3D printed gas burner for the SGT-700 gas turbine

3dpbm: What about serial part production using AM?

DVN: We are now moving into serial production for a number of these parts and are expanding them for our largest medium-size gas turbine, the SGT-800, and aeroderivative engines. For aeroderivative engines, we qualified AM-designed fuel injectors. Moreover, for these fuel injectors, we had already developed repair capabilities. Today at Siemens, we are ready with a number of combustor elements for power generation and mechanical drive in oil and gas applications. We have qualified material and manufacturing for combustor parts and we are now working on qualification for additional turbine components. These include several other interesting elements, such as the heat shield, which is positioned above the blade to protect the casing from hot gas. This is a very advanced part, with a complex system of cooling channels that had to be entirely redesigned for AM. We are now validating, in collaboration with our customer who was involved in the development of this part from the beginning.

3dpbm: How has AM changed the way you develop and design these parts?

DVN: While the blades are not going to be produced by AM at this time, 3D printing functional prototypes reduced the development and validation time from two years to just two months. Moreover, while in traditional manufacturing we can only test one part in two years, with AM we can test and validate up to 10 different designs in a two-month period. We are able to place real 3D printed, functional blades in real conditions to validate the cooling system and thus continuously improve the design of the blade. In this case, we were able to improve the cooling system’s capabilities significantly, which will extensively increase the blade’s lifetime. And while these blades will be cast, in three to five years we expect to 3D print them directly.

3dpbm: What other oil and gas parts do you expect will be 3D printed by then?

DVN: We began by considering our own products, which are for power generation and mechanical drive. However, we quickly realized that we can apply the lessons we learned in terms of part optimization by AM to a large number of other products, which we can provide through our AM service divisions (i.e. Siemens Finspong AM and/or Siemens Materials Solutions). We are now working with a number of oil and gas companies look at all the parts that could benefit from AM. In the past, many oil and gas companies only considered traditional manufacturing but, as AM has evolved, they now want to really understand the technology. We work with them on identifying the parts that we could produce, those we could repair and those we can turn into digital inventory.

Siemens Oil and Gas
Siemens’ gas turbine plant in Sweden, one of the first in the world to make intensive use of AM for part production.

3dpbm: How can shifting to a digital inventory benefit oil and gas companies?

DVN: The underlying idea is to create a digital twin for every part that can be 3D printed on-demand, thus moving from a conventional supply chain to a digital one. Oil and gas companies have billions tied up in physical inventories. If a digital warehouse can help cut just 10% of those costswhich it couldit would mean millions of dollars in savings. The biggest challenge is to define and validate these AM parts and we are working with oil and gas companies to do just that.

3dpbm: What AM technologies will be most relevant in the oil and gas industry?

DVN: At Siemens, we mainly use SLM today, as in laser powder bed fusion. We can apply this technology to obsolescence management and all those applications that can tolerate higher part costs, including high-value components such as nozzles, heat shields, vanes and blades. We do also use EBM in some cases and DED technologies for large parts. We are also looking at the evolution of binder jetting technologies, but we need them to evolve to a point where they will be able to print larger parts. We are always looking at the industry’s evolution screening the market for new machines and new AM technologies.

3dpbm: Which are the most used materials at Siemens for oil and gas applications?

DVN: Today we mostly used nickel-based alloys (e.g. Inconel) but we have also qualified a few different types of steel and titanium as well.

3dpbm: Looking ahead, how many parts do you think Siemens will produce for the oil and gas industry?

DVN: We are targeting AM production of up to 200,000 components per year by 2023. This is an ambitious goal, that will depend on many factors, but well within the scope and demands of the global oil and gas industry.

**This interview is one of several interviews conducted to produce the latest market report on additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry, published by SmarTech Analysis. The report is available here.






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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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