Siemens has designed, manufactured and commissioned a 3D-printed part in a Krško nuclear power plant in Slovenia.

Using Additive Manufacturing (AM), the firm developed a metallic, 108mm diameter impeller, which replaced an older impeller, for a fire protection pump that is in constant rotating operation.

The water pump is designed to provide pressure for the fire protection system at the nuclear plant.

Initially, Siemens reverse-engineered and developed a "digital twin" of the part. The team then applied advanced AM process using a 3D printer to produce the part at the company's AM facility in Finspång, Sweden.

Siemens said the technology will not only allow power plants to continue their operations but helps in extending their full life expectancy.

Siemens Power Generation Services division 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.

“Additive manufacturing's reduced lead times and faster production optimizes parts replacement and creates real value for our customers."

In order meet Krško NPP's stringent quality and safety assurance requirements, Siemens worked with the Krško operations team to ensure that the new 3D-printed part would perform safely and reliably.

The firm said that the material properties of the 3D-printed part were superior compared to that of original part when tested at an independent institute as well as in a CT scan.

Krško plant maintenance head Vinko Planinc said: "The better than expected performance of this 3D-printed part gave us confidence that we can reach the full life expectancy from our asset.”

Siemens and Krško are now working on advancing the design of power plants' parts that are most difficult to produce using classical manufacturing techniques.

Image: Siemens produced 3D-printed part for Krško nuclear power plant in Slovenia. Photo: courtesy of Siemens AG.