In Maine, the US Department of Energy has awarded the University of Maine $2.8 million to develop an additive for 3D manufacturing of wind turbine blades. The grant will see large wind blade molds printed at UMaine’s Composite Center, home to the world’s largest polymer 3D printer, according to Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The turbines will ultimately be produced using biobased materials reinforced with wood.
“By combining cutting-edge 3D printing manufacturing with bio-based feedstocks, our team estimates that new blade development costs can be reduced by 25% to 50% and accelerated by at least 6 months,” Dagher says. “Molds produced using these materials can be ground up and reused in other molds, making them a more sustainable solution.”
Currently, wind turbine blades take over a year to build and cost over $10 million, limiting their use.