Oct 15, 2015 | By Kira

Given the extreme forces that marine turbochargers are subjected to, erosion of their nozzle rings is a commonly reported problem, yet in most situations spare replacement parts are unavailable and repairing them either requires manufacturing a brand new piece and waiting for it to be delivered, often at a very high cost. To solve this problem, Tru-Marine, an international group of turbocharger companies specializing in maintenance, repair and overhaul, has developed a propriety 3D printing solution that reduces cost and waste while producing a stronger-than-ever finished product.

3D printed with an exotic super metal alloy, Tru-Marine’s new nozzle ring design provides improved heat and corrosion resistance compared to current casting standards. The material has a high ultimate tensile strength that, when used in additive manufacturing processes, can achieve near-perfect densities of greater than 99.5 percent. Further, the ability for 3D modelling software to create complex geometric forms means that each nozzle ring can be individually tailored to the technical specifications of the vessel it will be used for.

The company’s proprietary 3D printing process also enables reconstructing worn out areas directly onto the original component, reducing material waste and delivery times, while reclaiming parts to ‘like new’ condition. Due to 3D printing’s ability to produce small-scale or even single-run batches, repairs only happen as and when the vessel calls for it, in a fraction of the time and cost compared to conventional metalworking production, which requires economies of scale to be financially viable.

Tru-Marine, which represents renowned turbocharger manufacturers including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasi Heavy Industries, and Napier Turbochargers, is not new to 3D printing technology. In fact, they have been recognized several times by industry and governmental organizations for their proprietary turbocharger reclamation technologies. According to the company, their use of laser cladding in turbochargers with thin shafts was their first use of additive manufacturing, yet given the obvious advantages of reduced waste, cost, delivery times, and the specific properties of high performance alloys, there are many other applications for improving turbocharger parts and repair practices.

The use of 3D printing for repairing and even building completely brand new parts on-demand and on-the-spot is one of the most practical applications for specialized industries, such as turbocharger repair, in which very specific parts made from high-end materials are required often, yet due to economies of scale, large-batch production simply cannot be justified. We have seen similar uses in Taiwan, where their first ever locally-developed metal 3D printer could help repair old submarines and other DMSMS parts. The U.S. Military has also recognized the incredible potential of being able to 3D print fully functional repair parts, electronics or even weapons directly on the battlefield.

Tru-Marine's breakthrough of creating the first 3D printed nozzle ring for marine turbochargers has received support from government agencies and local research institutions. The Group currently offers global services and full-facility service stations in Singapore, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Sharjah, Rotterdam and Houston.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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