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Increasing the efficiency of high-pressure systems in aerospace through 3D metal printing

2020-11-17
Heat exchangers are a prolific application found in all things that concern fluid and power; they are mission-critical applications that affect overall performance in aircraft of all sizes. Yet, for years, heat exchangers have been constrained, by traditional manufacturing, in terms of limited geometric freedom and lengthy lead times. Consider the following • Heat exchangers are commonly fabricated with stainless steel and then gold brazed, which can be extremely costly • Each weld joint costs $100; in traditionally manufactured fuel and high-pressure systems, there could be hundreds of welds • There can be a lack of integration with other systems like electrical motors or conformal cooling with batteries. Assembly integration, testing, and validation are lengthy and difficult. Additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) has opened new possibilities for thermal conductivity and heat-exchanger design that enable end users to push the limits of what is possible.
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