GKN Additive, a 3D printing service provider, has partnered with heat transfer specialist Conflux Technology to design and manufacture 3D printed heat exchangers for customers in Europe.
Conflux has built its entire business around 3D printed heat exchangers that feature optimized geometries to maximize the cooling efficiency of high temperature parts. With the latest partnership, Conflux will combine its experience in heat exchanger design with GKN’s high-volume 3D printing capabilities to serve customers in the automotive, aerospace, electronics and beyond.
John Dulchinos, President of GKN Additive, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Conflux Technology. Heat exchangers and thermal management are key areas where 3D printing can provide high value solutions. Combining forces with industry application experts such as Conflux allows us to provide best-in-class solutions to our customers.
Conflux Heat Exchanger Fortress
Conflux Technology was founded in 2017 by Michael Fuller, an engineer with experience in Formula 1, the World Rally Championship and Le Mans. Fuller took what he learned about heat exchangers from the world of motor sports and transferred it to the field of additive manufacturing. His company is now seeking to disrupt the $ 16.6 billion heat exchanger market with 3D-printed devices using laser powder synthesis technology.
The company’s 3D printing capability is supported by computational heat transfer simulations that allow the production of optimized high-performance heat exchangers for all critical industries. According to Conflux, its printed parts offer unique designs that can provide performance, cost and lead times compared to traditionally produced counterparts.
Conflux also boasts an extensive portfolio of engineering services, including product design, CFD analysis, in-house 3D printing, post-processing and even independent validation.
In October 2021, the company closed the $ 8.5 million (AUD) Series A round of funding with AM Ventures and adopted the Australian Particle Accelerator Synchrotron to identify hidden anomalies in its 3D printed parts.
Most recently, in February this year, Conflux also partnered with Deakin University School of Engineering and the Institute of Border Materials (IFM) to develop new aluminum alloys for its 3D-printed heat exchangers. The nine-month research project is supported by $ 138,000 in funding from the Center for Innovative Industrial Cooperative Research (IMCRC).
Take advantage of the freedom of 3D printing design
At their core, Conflux heat exchangers use the freedom of design provided by additive manufacturing. After all, according to Fuller, the performance of a heat exchanger is “highly dependent on geometry.”
The company uses its own specialized DfAM methodology to enable most of the design work, initially developing a number of design concepts to choose from. Conflux also performs CFD simulations and FEA (Finite Element Analysis) on its designs to predict the performance of each of its geometries. Here, characteristics such as heat flow and fluid flow are optimized by improving the heat dissipation and pressure drop of the structures.
As a result, Conflux can deliver unique monolithic heat exchangers with geometric characteristics that are simply not possible using subtractive manufacturing methods. Of course, the 3D printing approach also comes with its own set of challenges. For example, it is difficult to determine the probability of damage to thin walls when working with monolithic parts containing complex internal cooling channels.
With GKN Additive now on board, Conflux is more than ever ready to expand its customer base and increase production across Europe.
Fuller said: “We are excited to be able to offer our customers access to GKN Additive’s production services. Its ability to produce large volumes of orders in Europe is ideal for our EU customers who are looking for series production close to the point of use. The opportunity to provide our technology to their huge range of the highest level and technologically advanced customers is already proving fruitful.
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The presented image shows the design of the Conflux Core heat exchanger. Photo via Conflux.