Manufacturing High-Yield Investment Castings with Minimal-Energy
General Electric (GE) Gas Power will develop an innovative, super energy-efficient single-piece furnace for IC to produce future high-technology blades and vanes for IGTs. During the past 20 years IGT blades and vanes have grown larger with increasingly complex internal features. GE proposes an innovative furnace design coupled with additive ceramic mold technologies to make single crystal blades and vanes. This energy-efficient technology would reduce cycle time and realize improved yields through lithographic printing of the core and shell of the casting—eliminating the thermal expansion mismatch in traditional investment casting—without requiring the use of complex machined wax and core dies. The proposed IC process will increase yields to 90% for future large and complex blades, reduce lead times for complex turbine blade castings from greater than 1 year to less than three months, decrease energy consumption by 90%, reduce the facility footprint to less than 10% that of a standard Bridgman furnace, and reduce furnace capital costs by more than 80%.
GE’s proposed new investment casting capability is expected to produce the most technically advanced, large, and complex cooled cast blades and vanes for current and future IGTs.