Clark School Engineers Work with Stratasys to Utilize FDM Technology in New Application
Todd Grimm posted on January 23, 2012 |

FDM heat exchangerThe A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park and Stratasys, Inc., announced the successful design, fabrication, and test of a webbed tube heat exchanger (WTHX), believed to be the first plastic heat exchanger made by additive manufacturing. Fabricated at the Stratasys facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., the 3D-printed WTHX promises to expand the potential applications of polymer heat exchangers to small production volumes and cost-constrained systems.

The WTHX represents the first time that a plastic heat exchanger has been manufactured through Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology and used to successfully transfer heat through a polymer structure from a hot gas to a cold liquid.

Juan Cevallos, a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant in the Thermal Management of Photonic and Electronic Systems Laboratory at the Clark School's Department of Mechanical Engineering, was responsible for testing the WTHX. Under the direction of Professor Avram Bar-Cohen, Cevallos has been working in collaboration with the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi to advance polymer heat exchanger technology for seawater cooling of liquefied natural gas processes, among other applications.

The relatively high tool and assembly costs of low-volume polymer molding production led Bar-Cohen's research team to select an additive manufacturing technology that could build complex geometries in a single step. Stratasys' FDM technology provides that capability while using some of the strongest and most heat-resistant thermoplastics found among additive manufacturing technologies.

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