In the recent years Additive Manufacturing (AM) methods, such as the Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) technology, are getting more and more attractive and feasible for the realization of components and subcomponents of gas turbines. In particular, they are receiving much attention since, on one hand, the manufacturing of complex 3D geometries is allowed and, on the other, manufacturing and delivery times can be cut down. At the current state of the art, although AM is entering and spreading within modern gas turbines at fast pace, to the authors’ knowledge only few applications have yet been commercialized relatively to cooling holes, due to the intrinsic difficulties associated with such a critical feature.

Lately, Baker Hughes is studying the possibility to manufacture film-cooling holes via the DMLM technology in order to exploit the flexibility of such innovative manufacturing method and hence eliminate additional processes and lead time. From the open literature it is known that additively manufactured holes can have a more irregular shape and higher roughness than traditional ones, which may lead not only to a reduction in coolant flow but more importantly to a decay of the film-cooling adiabatic effectiveness. For this reason, a test campaign has been conducted in collaboration with the University of Florence (Italy) with the objective of characterizing the performance (minimum passage diameter, flow check and adiabatic effectiveness) of AM vs traditional cylindrical holes on simple-geometry coupons built upon different construction angles.

Results were then analyzed in order to fully compare the performance of AM vs traditional film-cooling holes at different operating regimes. In addition, selected holes were inspected through tomography in order to reveal the microscopic characteristics of lateral and outlet surfaces and get a further appreciation of the two different technologies. Ultimately the dependency of AM holes performance on print angles is sought with the purpose of characterizing the impact of such manufacturing technology on film-cooling holes design.

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