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    Additive Manufacturing

    Renishaw turns heat up with AM

    • By Renishaw plc
    • September 17, 2020
    • 4 minute read

    Renishaw is helping automotive supplier HiETA to move metal additive manufacturing (AM) from prototype processes into the commercial production of specialist heat exchangers. This process has been realised by adding a Renishaw RenAM 500M system that is dramatically reducing production times and costs.

    Founded in 2011 to develop metal AM methods for producing complex, light-weight structures for various types of heat-management applications, HiETA manufactures recuperators, turbo-machinery and combustion components for micro gas-turbines, phase-change heat exchangers for fuel cells and integrated waste-heat recovery systems. HiETA now has over 25 staff that cover AM product development from initial design through to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA) through to manufacturing, testing and validation. The latest addition is the RenAM 500M a laser powder-bed fusion system designed for the production of metal components on the factory floor. Incorporating a powerful 500W laser to give faster processing than earlier models, the new RenAM 500M features automated powder handling to improve quality and reduced operator intervention.

    Traditionally, heat exchangers are made from thin sheets of material welded together. The design complexity makes production both challenging and time-consuming, while the material used for the welding process adds to the overall weight of the part. Before the work at HiETA, little research had been undertaken into the use of AM for the manufacture of heat exchangers. The initial challenges were to confirm that AM could successfully generate sufficiently thin walls with high-quality surfaces, and then produce a complete component with the complexity of a typical heat exchanger. The third challenge was to move the process from the manufacture of samples and prototypes into low-volume production.

    Solution

    HiETA developed specific parameter sets for the production of leak-free thin walls in Inconel down to thicknesses of 150 microns. Both companies produced samples using a variety of settings on the AM250 at Renishaw’s facility in Stone, Staffordshire and then at HiETA’s base on the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

    The test results enabled the companies to confirm the optimum parameters on the machines for thin-walled structures and also allowed HiETA to develop a design guidebook with parameters for heat transfer in heat exchangers manufactured using laser powder-bed fusion technology. Having achieved a leak-free wall, the next stage was a complete, full-size unit.

    Two projects were undertaken with vehicle integrator Delta Motorsports. The first was a cuboid heat exchanger for electric vehicles. The second aimed to take the design of the components to higher levels of complexity. More complex shapes can improve performance, efficiency and reduce costs. The design chosen was an annular form that could be wrapped around other components and contain integrated manifolds. HiETA also used these projects to develop an extraction process for removal of excess powder material from the cores of the heat exchangers.

    The first results on thermal transfer and fluid flow data were incorporated into the CFD and finite-element analysis programs used by HiETA. The first attempt at a complete product on the AM250 took seventeen days. This was reduced to eighty hours. Detailed testing showed that the component would improve performance and weight and volume by 30%.

    “With almost all of our projects, we are trying to light-weight components and solve thermal management issues,” explained Stephen Mellor, Lead Project Engineer at HiETA. “Through our partnership with Renishaw, we have produced components that are typically around 40% lighter and smaller by volume than anything equivalent that is available on the market.

    Following the success with the Renishaw AM250, HiETA invested in the more powerful RenAM 500M system to enable more cost-effective low volume production. “We are now producing parts for engines with real commercial applications and customers with very demanding requirements. Renishaw’s AM technology to gives high performance at competitive prices,” concludes Stephen.   

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/17140306/Cross-section-of-SLAMMiT-recuperator-640x360.jpg

    Renishaw turns heat up with AM

    Renishaw is helping automotive supplier HiETA to move metal additive manufacturing (AM) from prototype processes into the commercial production of specialist heat exchangers. This process has been realised by adding a Renishaw RenAM 500M system that is dramatically reducing production times and costs.

    Founded in 2011 to develop metal AM methods for producing complex, light-weight structures for various types of heat-management applications, HiETA manufactures recuperators, turbo-machinery and combustion components for micro gas-turbines, phase-change heat exchangers for fuel cells and integrated waste-heat recovery systems. HiETA now has over 25 staff that cover AM product development from initial design through to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA) through to manufacturing, testing and validation. The latest addition is the RenAM 500M a laser powder-bed fusion system designed for the production of metal components on the factory floor. Incorporating a powerful 500W laser to give faster processing than earlier models, the new RenAM 500M features automated powder handling to improve quality and reduced operator intervention.

    Traditionally, heat exchangers are made from thin sheets of material welded together. The design complexity makes production both challenging and time-consuming, while the material used for the welding process adds to the overall weight of the part. Before the work at HiETA, little research had been undertaken into the use of AM for the manufacture of heat exchangers. The initial challenges were to confirm that AM could successfully generate sufficiently thin walls with high-quality surfaces, and then produce a complete component with the complexity of a typical heat exchanger. The third challenge was to move the process from the manufacture of samples and prototypes into low-volume production.

    Solution

    HiETA developed specific parameter sets for the production of leak-free thin walls in Inconel down to thicknesses of 150 microns. Both companies produced samples using a variety of settings on the AM250 at Renishaw’s facility in Stone, Staffordshire and then at HiETA’s base on the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

    The test results enabled the companies to confirm the optimum parameters on the machines for thin-walled structures and also allowed HiETA to develop a design guidebook with parameters for heat transfer in heat exchangers manufactured using laser powder-bed fusion technology. Having achieved a leak-free wall, the next stage was a complete, full-size unit.

    Two projects were undertaken with vehicle integrator Delta Motorsports. The first was a cuboid heat exchanger for electric vehicles. The second aimed to take the design of the components to higher levels of complexity. More complex shapes can improve performance, efficiency and reduce costs. The design chosen was an annular form that could be wrapped around other components and contain integrated manifolds. HiETA also used these projects to develop an extraction process for removal of excess powder material from the cores of the heat exchangers.

    The first results on thermal transfer and fluid flow data were incorporated into the CFD and finite-element analysis programs used by HiETA. The first attempt at a complete product on the AM250 took seventeen days. This was reduced to eighty hours. Detailed testing showed that the component would improve performance and weight and volume by 30%.

    “With almost all of our projects, we are trying to light-weight components and solve thermal management issues,” explained Stephen Mellor, Lead Project Engineer at HiETA. “Through our partnership with Renishaw, we have produced components that are typically around 40% lighter and smaller by volume than anything equivalent that is available on the market.

    Following the success with the Renishaw AM250, HiETA invested in the more powerful RenAM 500M system to enable more cost-effective low volume production. “We are now producing parts for engines with real commercial applications and customers with very demanding requirements. Renishaw’s AM technology to gives high performance at competitive prices,” concludes Stephen.