Big Area Additive Manufacturing Application in Wind Turbine Molds

Post, Brian K.
Richardson, Bradley
Lind, Randall
Love, Lonnie J.
Lloyd, Peter
Kune, Vlastimil
Rhyne, Breanna J.
Roschli, Alex
Hannan, Jim
Nolet, Steve
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University of Texas at Austin

Tooling is a primary target for current additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, technology because of its rapid prototyping capabilities. Molds of many sizes and shapes have been produced for a variety of industries. However, large tooling remained out of reach until the development of large-scale composite AM manufacturing processes like the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system. The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) worked with TPI Composites to use the BAAM system to fabricate a wind turbine blade mold. The fabricated wind turbine blade mold was produced in 16 additively manufactured sections, was 13 meters long, had heating channels integrated into the design, and was mounted into a steel frame post fabrication. This research effort serves as a case study to examine the technological impacts of AM on wind turbine blade tooling and evaluate the efficacy of this approach in utility scale wind turbine manufacturing.