Voxeljet to develop binder jet 3D printer to produce moulds for GE offshore wind

3D printing news

Haliade-X prototype.

GE, FraunhoferIGCV and Voxeljet are working to develop a binder jet 3D printing system capable of printing moulds for the production of GE’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbine.

The Advance Casting Cell (ACC) 3D printer will be at least partially financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and will have the capacity to produce moulds that weigh more than 60 metric tonnes and have a diameter measuring 9.5 metres. These moulds will be printed in sand materials and able to be used for casting highly complex metal parts of different shapes and sizes that make up an offshore wind turbine nacelle.

Using this 3D printing system, which is based on Voxeljet’s core binder jetting technology, the partners expect to be able to reduce the lead time of mould production from ten weeks to two, while also reducing the product’s carbon footprint by removing the need to transport components from a central manufacturing location. The project is set to be launched during Q3 of 2021 with initial partner trials starting during Q1 if 2022.

While it leans on Voxeljet’s 3D printing technology, the project will also take advantage of Fraunhofer IGCV’s proficiencies in casting, materials and digital process monitoring. Fraunhofer IGCV will be responsible for ‘taking a close look at thermal management’ during casting and evaluating the ‘ideal proportions of the printing materials.’ The organisation will also develop and test new approaches to process monitoring as part of the project.


The ACC printer will be designed to print moulds for key components of wind turbines, with sizes up 9.5 metresin diameter and 30 to 60 tons in weight.

The roots of this project can be traced back to 2019, when Voxeljet produced a test mould for GE which consisted of dozens of assembled pieces. With the ACC printer, the plan is to print a ‘significantly reduced number of parts for the full set’ for a mould that can be optimised in terms of functionality and material consumption. This, the partners believe, will help to enhance the efficiency of offshore wind turbines, at a time when global offshore wind capacity is set to increase by 15-fold in the next 20 years, per the International Energy Agency.

“The 3D printed moulds will bring many benefits including improved casting quality through improved surface finish, part accuracy and consistency,” commented Juan Pablo Cillia, Senior Additive Design Engineer at GE Renewable Energy. “Furthermore, sand binder jet moulds or additive moulds provide cost savings by reducing machining time and other material costs due to optimised design. This unprecedented production technology will be a game changer for production efficiency allowing localised manufacturing in high-cost countries, a key benefit for our customers looking to maximise the local economic development benefits of offshore wind.”

“While offsite on-demand 3D printing provides many benefits for small quantities of cast parts, running a 3D printing system on-site leverages the technology to its fullest capacity,” offered Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO at Voxeljet. “With our productive ‘Binder jetting’ technology in combination with our experience in large format industrial 3D printing, we are serving customers in the foundry industry for over 20 years. It is our mission to bring 3D printing into true industrial manufacturing and we are therefore very excited to be part of this ground-breaking project.”

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