Additive Manufacturing for Aerodynamic Diffuser Designs in a Centrifugal Compressor

Ruben Adkins-Rieck, Purdue University


The primary objective of this research was to develop a facility capable of testing the aerodynamic performance of vaned diffusers in a centrifugal compressor. The research utilizes stereolithography to 3D-print a vaned diffuser flow path which can then be tested directly in the Purdue Centrifugal Stage for Aerodynamic Research (CSTAR) facility at the Purdue Compressor Research Lab. This compressor is representative of a compressor that would form the rear stage of an axi-centrifugal compressor in a gas turbine aero-engine. Several components were designed and manufactured to accept the printed plastic diffuser in the CSTAR facility. A printed diffuser flow path was successfully tested in the compressor at 70% and 100% corrected speed. The performance of the printed diffuser is compared to the performance of a conventionally produced diffuser. The performance varied slightly at 100% corrected speed, but matched almost exactly at 70% corrected speed. Some additional research is discussed which would help to improve the matching of the printed diffuser to the design intention. Additionally, the printed diffuser flow path provides unprecedented instrumentation access and the ability to improve recovery factor for total pressure and total temperature measurements. The instrumentation was successfully printed and was used to understand the diffuser performance in detail. This research successfully demonstrated the use of a 3D-printed fully instrumented plastic diffuser flow path in a centrifugal compressor at full-scale and 100% corrected speed. The diffuser flow path can be printed in 6-8 days using stereolithography, and can be assembled in less than 24 hours. Therefore, the lead time and cost of centrifugal compressor diffuser experimental research is significantly reduced and a wider design space can be explored.




Key, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering|Mechanical engineering

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