In wind power, as in most maturing industries, it is increasingly difficult to stand out among the service providers. Winergy produces the world’s largest offshore turbine and gearbox. They were looking for a way to display the complex gear mechanisms that are used to translate the wind energy into electric power within the turbine. They commissioned 3YOURMIND to create a 3D printed model of the gear drive. They used metal-plastic components to replicate the weight and allow visitors to directly experience the functionality.
(image: Full Scale, Functional 3D Printed Metal Gear Drive)
Winergy is in the midst of a 2-month road show throughout the United States presenting the Adwen AD 8-180, the largest offshore wind turbine in the world. But producing a memorable presentation of the new technology is mostly drown out by the noise of a typical trade show. The concept they developed was providing a functional model to be used in describing the extraordinary amount of power generated by the new design and giving the visitors a tactile experience of the design.
The attendees of the trade show are manufactures and producers of wind energy. They arrived with the expectation that the solutions presented at the trade show are substantial and significant. 3YOURMIND recommended the Alumide material for the resulting model because it matched the weight and strength of the turbines and carbon fiber fins that adorned the rest of the space. Additionally, the song material ensured that it could withstand the wear-and-tear of two months of travel and presentation.
Housing for Winergy Gearbox
At the trade show, the 3D Printing process sparked as much interest as the physical model. Despite being placed in front of a full sized pipe from the power station, the engineers spent their time discussing the fidelity and complexity of the 3D printed model. The production level surprised them and they realized they could already consider methods for applying the novel printing techniques to the complex structures and forms within the turbines and drive trains.
Piecing Together the Puzzle
One of the most significant remaining challenges in reliably producing functional parts is accommodating a variety of material tolerances. Because the final model was made from multiple materials, the CAD design provided by Winergy was adjusted by the 3YOURMIND CAD Department for the end use case.
There is a very low tolerance between the various components. A part which is prepared incorrectly can lead to increased wear or a non-functional model. In order to keep on budget, we had one production run for the components. But the experience of our team and our analyzation software ensured a perfect result
Key Account Manager, 3YOURMIND
As additive manufacturing technologies develop producing high quality, large scale outputs like the Winergy drive train are becoming increasingly common. It makes these types of small scale productions affordable. Winergy expected that manufacturing the model with traditional methods would have been 8-10x the final cost.
As part of the service offering, 3YOURMIND also provided the roadshow team with a fly case to ensure it made its way safely to the next road show. But Winergy also imagines that these types of demonstration models will also become a norm as part of sales negotiations and educational demonstrations. The tactical illustration of the technology provides a succinct way to illustrate the novelty of the process.
Jumpstarting the Future
Perhaps most importantly, Winergy is gathering valuable experience in distributed additive production. What their engineers anticipated while viewing the model will soon become a standard in manufacturing. They will be able to leverage these workflows as soon as the technology ripens to stay at the forefront of their field.