It’s summer and the temperatures are rising, bringing random thoughts on global warming, a beach vacation and the AC (not in any particular order or logic because it is just too hot to think). So how can Additive Manufacturing (AM) help us cool down? Here are some additively manufactured cool cooling solutions for people and machines.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Last week we wrote about how AM can contribute to more mindful consumer culture. Part of it is using AM to create products that have an environmental advantage. For example, 3D printed ceramic bricks. The bricks have a cooling effect due to the material and structure which enables airflow and evaporation, reducing or eliminating the need for AC. At HKU‘s Faculty of Architecture researchers and students worked together with Plasma Studio and Sino Group in creating an almost 4-meter tall pavilion (below and up top). The pavilion consists of approximately 2000 3D printed terracotta bricks each uniquely designed. Emerging Objects also created 3D printed cooling bricks – the lattice structure absorbs water, the air passing through the structures causes the water to evaporate which cools down the ceramic material and the structure (above).
While the ceramic bricks are meant to cool people and buildings, heat exchangers are used in order to control the temperature in products and processes. Additively manufactured heat exchangers are designed for both efficiency and sustainability, using complex structures and thinner walls. The CEEE (The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Energy Engineering) together with ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and 3D Systems managed to reduce weight and size while increasing the efficiency of a 1 kW heat exchanger by 20% (above traditionally manufactured on the left and 3D printed on the right). Producing the heat exchanger as one part not only simplifies the process in terms of manufacturing steps but it enables a better product. According to Vikrant Aute, director of CEEE’s Modeling and Optimization Consortium, “with conventional manufacturing technologies, assembly by brazing extremely thin tubes to a manifold is a painstaking operation with low reliability when it comes to leakages under high-pressure conditions. With additive manufacturing, no assembly is required since the part is produced in one continuous operation, no matter how complex the parts or how delicate the features”. Heat exchangers are used in a wide range of products, engines and production lines. The need for a lighter more efficient heat exchanger is especially critical in aircraft. United Technologies Corp. (UTC) working with America Makes, the U.S. Department of Defense, and UTC’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Expertise (AMCoE) have additively manufactured heat exchangers specifically for aircraft, and so have EOS and 3TRPD (below). Heat management seems to be a hot topic lately, just recently an entire conference was dedicated to heat-transfer technology. During the conference, students were challenged to redesign heatsinks using contemporary technologies (2nd below 3D printed aluminum heat sink designed by ASU students Faizan Ejaz, Munku Kang, and Gokul Chandrasekaran. Photo courtesy of Beomjin Kwon).
Of course, the best way to break the heat is an ice popsicle. For the production of popsicles, 3D printing can be used in the manufacturing process of the molds, either in the creation of the original shape or in the mold itself. The Dangerous Popsicles were created by first 3D printing the shapes, which were used to create the molds (above). The final shapes of the popsicles resemble viruses and cacti, attempting to challenge the connection between vision and taste. Dream Pops on the other hand initially 3D printed the silicone mold in which they created their uniquely flavored healthy twist on the traditional popsicle (below).
Perhaps others would prefer using the Personal Peltier Cooler designed by Jarno V. Using a thermodynamic mechanism, the device indirectly cools your blood flow, which extends to cooling your entire body. Still, indulging in an ice-cold sweet is my weapon of choice for the summer.