Conductive flakes enable an economical additive manufacturing method to yield results.
The standard manufacturing and assembly processes for heat exchangers can be expensive and time-consuming. They also limit the geometric configurations that can be considered during the design process.
Additive manufacturing (AM), when viable, can be a more efficient manufacturing process and gives engineers much more design freedom, often allowing them to create features that standard machining cannot.
Researchers are looking for ways to build high-performance heat exchangers using AM. However, most metal-based AM processes are so expensive that commercial production is not viable.
Looking to see if another approach might work, a research team led by Gregory F. Nellis, a professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW), designed and built an efficient and cost-effective heat exchanger using lower-cost, deposition-based AM processes. The team successfully printed a heat exchanger using fused deposition modeling that has sufficient thermal conductivity to outperform standard heat exchangers, at a more affordable cost.