September 13, 2020

New innovative design concept for wind turbine towers based on 3D print technology

Ramboll will deliver a new design concept that adopts the 3D printing technology to construct wind turbine towers to GE Renewable Energy, one of the largest companies in the onshore wind market worldwide.

The demand for taller wind turbine towers in the onshore wind market has led to a request for innovative tower concepts. The concepts available today are hybrid solutions made in prefabricated concrete and steel which are limited regarding geometry and weight due to transportation restrictions and require extensive manual labour for the installation. However, this is not the case in a recently won project by Ramboll for the client GE Renewable Energy in the US.

Here experts from Ramboll Transport division in Copenhagen will deliver services that enable the use of 3D print technology.

“We will establish the requirements for the concrete material that will be 3D printed and develop the structural design concept for the tower. One of the main challenges is to define reinforcement principles that are compatible with the 3D printing process. Our services will also include to document sufficient geotechnical and structural load-bearing capacity and to prepare drawings for construction of test elements and full-scale prototype that will be constructed in 2022”, says Project Manager Tommi Højer Bondum from Ramboll Transport.

The 3D printer used in this project is developed by the Danish company, COBOD, a global leading expert within development and fabrication of 3D printers in close collaboration with Ramboll. The concrete mix will be developed by another globally leading company, Lafarge-Holcim.

3D print technology enables lower construction costs and increased quality

Using 3D print technology leads to increased value for the project and the client.

”With our new concept, we will be able to leverage the benefits of full automation of the construction process for our client. We are able to deliver more value in terms of lower construction costs due to significant reduction of manual labour in the concrete printing process, a higher quality standard by eliminating potential human error, and at the same time we are also minimizing the carbon emissions from the manual process including the use of construction vehicles such as cranes.”, says Project Manager Tommi Højer Bondum.

Ramboll at the forefront of 3D print technology

3D print technology is predicted to become one of the most central next-generation construction methods for load-bearing structures. With the new innovative design concept for wind turbine towers, Ramboll has an opportunity to help laying the foundation for this development.

“There is a great demand in the wind industry for viable tower concepts that can reach taller heights, and this is an excellent chance to investigate the opportunities for adopting 3D printing technology to achieve this goal. The project will help us built up valuable experience with 3D printing technology which can also be scaled to other markets. At the same time, we support Ramboll’s vision to develop innovative solutions for our clients, so we are proud that Ramboll has been selected for this ambitious project”, says Head of Department Henrik Niedermayer.