German company Siemens has successfully completed commercial installation of a 3D-printed part in Slovenia's Krško nuclear power plant.

The new technology helps mature operating plants to continue operation and extend their working life.

Krško's 3D-printed replacement part is a metallic, 108mm diameter impeller to be used for a fire protection water pump, which is in constant rotating operation. The new printing technology is best suited for old, obsolete, and non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, as their designs can be virtually impossible to obtain.

To make the part, Siemens' experts in Slovenia used reverse-engineering to create a digital model. The company then used an additive manufacturing (AM) unit in Sweden to apply its advanced AM process to a 3D printer.

"[This] is another example of how the digital transformation and the data-driven capabilities we have are impacting the energy industry."

Siemens' power generation services division chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Holt said: “This achievement at the Krško nuclear power plant is another example of how the digital transformation and the data-driven capabilities we have are impacting the energy industry in ways that really matter.

“AM’s reduced lead times and faster production optimises parts replacement and creates real value for our customers.”

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In collaboration with the Krško operations team, Siemens performed extensive testing over several months to ensure the newly developed part would function safely and reliably.

Image: Siemens water pump impeller using additive manufacturing and 3D printing is operating in Slovenia's Krško nuclear power plant. Photo: courtesy of Siemens.