3D Printed Heat Exchanger Has Venture Capitalists Wanting More
Fuller’s gizmo is a heat exchanger – a device that is found in fridges, air-conditioners, power stations and, in this case, cars – and a product of 3D printing. Its internal geometry is so complex it can’t be made any other way. It’s half the weight of similar devices, significantly more efficient – and already has Silicon Valley venture capitalists keen to know more. Why?
Because the heat exchanger industry will be reportedly worth $20 billion within the next five years.
I’m very excited to see how Additive Manufacturing can improve heat exchanger performance. It will enable complex designs that would be impossible to braze, either to fit into odd shaped spaces, to enhance the heat transfer coefficient, or to reduce the pressure drop by smoothing flow transitions and entry effects. Designs could also easily be customized or tailored to the air flow to increase performance in high-flow regions or save weight in dead air spots. I would also be very interested in seeing how printed surface treatments could be applied to internal, irregular passages.