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Interview with the winners of the Grade2XL Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2022

The winners of the 2022 edition of the Grade2XL Additive Manufacturing Challenge have been revealed during the M2i Meeting Materials conference held in Noordwijkerhout (NL) on 13 december 2023.

The winning team is coming from IRT Jules Verne, a research institute based in Nantes, France. The winners were invited to the M2i conference to receive their prize, and got the chance to visit RAMLAB facilities and to intiate discussions with the team in charge of the manufacturing of their part.

The winning team and the jury of the Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2022

The Grade2XL team was also there to follow the journey of the winners and get insight on their project entitled PELTAM, a smart multi-material bucket for a Pelton wheel turbine.

The jury about the winning design

The purpose of the part is very interesting and promising with some significant potential gains on the industry. The choice of a second material for water jet abrasion resistance allows the part to keep its original function and reduce its cost. The stiffener in the inside of the bucket, instead only on the outside is a novelty that is very interesting. This feature gives a weight reduction of the bucket, while also reducing the cost and energy utilization.

Check out the interview of Dr. Julio Cesar DE LUCA from IRT Jules Verne below and watch the short video available at the end of this article !


Interview with Julio Cesar DE LUCA, PhD, European Technical Coordinator at IRT Jules Verne

Can you explain the part you designed?

The part proposed for the Grade2XL Additive Manufacturing Challenge is a bucket of a turbine Pelton. This part is mostly manufactured by subtractive manufacturing, although some works have been using additive manufacturing (AM) more recently. The Pelton bucket is the part in the turbine that is under a high speed water jet, and transforms the hydraulic into mechanical energy, and ultimately the wheel movement into electricity. One of the major issues of this bucket is wearing by the water jet, especially due to its silty content, which in time can largely reduce the performance of the turbine.

Turbine Pelton - Hydro-abrasive erosion of a Pelton bucket

What is innovative about this part?

The main idea is to produce a Pelton bucket functionalised by using multimaterials and lighter than the currently produced buckets by using topology optimisation. The main innovation comes from a smartly designed bucket which is hollow, stiffened with lattice structure and with a jet-water resistant cladded surface.

Pelton bucket with internal geometry optimisation

Why is WAAM interesting for the manufacturing of this part?

The WAAM process is proposed to manufacture a low buy-to-fly bucket, with a hollow-lattice body and with a very hard cladding at the surface under water-jet, which can reduce mass, manufacturing energy consumption and wearing (increasing lifespan and reducing maintenance costs).

What industrial application is possible? What is the future of this part?

The application is the production of a smartly functionalised, jet-water resistant and lighter Pelton bucket. The next step is to find interested industrials from the renewable energy market that produce or use these turbines and develop a project which could validate the approach proposed by IRT Jules Verne. We are open to discuss with anyone interested on this technology.

What does it mean for you and IRT Jules Verne to have won this award?

Receiving this award from such a great consortium that is GRADE2XL is a real asset for the IRT Jules Verne, this allows us to meet very interesting people and let them to know us as an important player in the additive manufacturing field in Europe.

What is the next step of your collaboration with RAMLAB?

RAMLAB will manufacture the prototyped Pelton bucket we designed and which in the subject of this award. We are very glad to have met RAMLAB staff and visit their premisses in The Netherlands, and we are impressed with their achievements so far. It is clear for us that a collaboration with RAMLAB will be profitable and will allow the creation of activities for both of our organizations. We are looking forward to have them with us in a future European project, hopefully with a proposal bid already in April 23.



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