Finding replacement parts for a nuclear power plant isn't as simple as running to the local big box hardware store and picking up a generic 'good-enough' widget. Stringent safety and reliability requirements must be observed and in the case of the Krško nuclear power plant in Slovenia, commissioned 31 years ago, the original manufacturer of the part is no longer in business.
The replacement part needed for the Krško nuclear power plant in Slovenia is a metallic, 108 mm diameter impeller for a fire protection pump that is in constant rotating operation. The water pump provides pressure for the fire protection system at the plant. The original impeller was in operation since the plant was commissioned in 1981.
Siemens says replacing obsolete, non-OEM parts is an excellent application of additive manufacturing (AM) because by creating 'digital twins' of the original part allows the containing component to continue operation instead of reengineering and replacing the entire operation.
After making the worn impeller's digital twin, Siemens sent the data to its additive manufacturing (AM) facility in Finspång, Sweden , where its advanced AM processing center used a 3D printer to produce the part. Meeting the Krško NPP’s stringent quality and safety assurance requirements required extensive testing by the Krško operations team to ensure the new 3D-printed part would perform safely and reliably. Further material testing at an independent institute as well as a CT scan, showed that the material properties of the 3D-printed part were superior to those of the original part.
“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,” said Tim Holt, CEO of Siemens Power Generation Services division.
AM technology is rapidly gaining acceptance in construction and industrial applications. Read more about how Siemens helped keep the power on with a printer here: