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High Performance 3-D Printed Thermal Management Solutions
Keywords: Heat exchangers, Additive Manufacturing, liquid cooling
Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is everywhere, from the popular press (“Print your breakfast at home using this 1 weird trick!”) to consumer devices to outer space. This talk will provide a user’s perspective on the technology for practical implementation of thermal management solutions. First, a solution dictates that the device be cost-competitive with existing technologies, which eliminates many options from the start. Add further material compatibility, strength, reliability and temperature characteristics and the list of available technologies and materials begins to narrow significantly. Currently available technologies that are compatible and affordable are generally polymer composites with low thermal conductivity. On the other hand, additive manufacturing enables the production of geometries that generally can only be dreamt of, not machined. Specific examples will be given of devices that have proven to be very effective for device level liquid cooling, are difficult or impossible to produce with current molding or machining technologies, and that can be produced at competitive costs. In addition, a less obvious application will be presented: a liquid to air heat exchanger. Using careful design, and perhaps some luck, this heat exchanger can transfer twice as much heat for the same temperature difference as a comparable commercial, metal heat exchanger, and is ¼ the weight and presents lower pressure loss to both the air and the liquid flows. While not directly competitive in cost with the commercial device, it can be produced for a cost that is reasonable for a weight sensitive, performance application. This example will lead into a discussion of the direction of additive manufacturing technologies and how they may be directly applicable to thermal management solutions in the near to mid term.
Timothy A. Shedd,
Ebullient, LLC
Madison, WI

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