There are many types of heat exchangers on the market today. They are available in many different designs and types to fit specific needs. Traditional manufacturing of heat exchangers has had difficulty in the past, but today’s new technologies and the ability to 3D Print heat exchangers is thankfully helping the industry significantly. Here are just some of the advantages of 3D Printing heat exchangers.
Manufacturing costs of everything are on the rise and heat exchangers are no exception. Manufacturers must pay for equipment maintenance, a trained labor force, materials, and upkeep on the facility manufacturing the heat exchangers. These overhead fees have increased drastically over time causing the overall manufacturing costs of heat exchangers to skyrocket. 3D Printing takes the high cost factor out of manufacturing heat exchangers in many ways.
First, it puts an end to large scale machines that must be maintained and repaired on a regular basis.
Second, 3D Printing takes human error out of the equation and in some cases, can drastically reduce the company’s overall labor force with automation.
Third, 3D Printers have the ability to make heat exchangers from a variety of materials that can be manipulated far easier by the 3D Printer when compared to a large scale manufacturing machine. Lighter materials that are easier to work with while maintaining the ultimate structure of the heat exchanger can be better achieved with 3D Printers.
Improved Design Capabilities
The design of many heat exchangers has not changed throughout the years. The reason for this is largely due to fouling and the high costs involved in manufacturing and testing a new design. 3D Printing has proven to drastically reduce overall manufacturing costs while providing a high quality heat exchanger. Another advantage to 3D Printing heat exchangers is the ability to change up the design without impacting final costs.
CFD modeling allows for proper testing to be accomplished without the piece having to be manufactured first. Computer imaging allows for various scenarios and new designs to be formulated thereby increasing the ability of the heat exchanger industry to adapt to the needs of new clientele. With 3D Printing of heat exchangers, the limits to design capabilities are only limited by the designer’s imagination. Furthermore, 3D Printers are capable of much more complex geometry than standard heat exchanger manufacturing machines, so design can truly take on a new face.
Quality manufacturing is always an essential attribute, and this is especially so with heat exchangers. When manufacturing and designing heat exchangers, careful consideration must be maintained for how the heat is distributed through the device. Aspects, such as fouling and breaks in the interior structure, will greatly impact the quality of the product rendered. Traditionally, manufacturers have simply managed the same designs over the years with a, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” mentality, but that is beginning to fade away from heat exchanger manufacturers, thankfully.
3D Printed heat exchangers often offer the ability to generate a better quality final product as they can be tested within a computer before manufacturing takes place. The designer can clearly see which designs work and which ones might need a bit more work without the high costs of manufacturing and testing multiple models. In traditional heat exchanger manufacturing, we were limited by the machining process which may have resulted in products, be it good for its time, at a lower quality of what can potentially be produced with modern 3D Printing techniques. These new techniques could not only increase the efficiency of the heat exchangers themselves but increase the efficiency of the system as whole by providing less fluid resistance through the heat exchanger or, due to the increased efficiency, requiring a lower flowrate to achieve the same output. Both of the previous two examples would result in a smaller pump, requiring less energy, thus saving the client on capital fees and running costs.
The manufacturing world can be a stubborn entity, but as 3D Printing is being embraced in other areas of manufacturing, heat exchanger manufacturers are beginning to see its amazing advantages. Anytime you can find a way to reduce manufacturing costs while improving overall quality of a product, people begin to take notice. The advantages of 3D Printing heat exchangers is something that manufacturers will enjoy as they will be able to provide a great product to their clients while keeping their bottom line well in hand. 3D Printing is the new revolution in all forms of manufacturing and will give us the ability to provide better products on a cost effective platform.