Collaboration between science and business in TACR Théta programme has brought progress in the area of heat exchange

Date of publication
News categories

Scientists from the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in collaboration with BENEŠ a LÁT a.s. and CARDAM s.r.o. managed to develop a cooling system for complex forms manufactured by means of 3D printing. The project results utilize the latest findings in the area of coating technologies and significant progress of additive manufacturing. The connection of these two fields enabled to manufacture a device with maximally effective heat exchange which moreover happens in a controlled way. With the present increase in energy costs, this is highly relevant.

The whole system is the first of its kind in the world. The manufacturing process for its preparation will be widely applicable in the future in the development and production of heat exchangers. The unique result was created within the Theta project implemented with the support of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.

The coating was developed and applied using plasma technology by scientists from the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. This film has ideal parameters in terms of adhesion, corrosion and heat resistance, heat conduction and preparation complexity. It contributes to higher efficiency and improves the lifetime of systems even in the most demanding conditions. The very technology of applying coatings to 3D printed metal materials, which have a different surface structure than conventionally produced objects, was a significant innovation. This is one of the parameters that makes the device unique.

"This is another very successful industrial project that the Institute of Physics managed to complete. Colleagues from the Division of Optics are among the world leaders in the field of coating, and with their expertise they have already contributed to the successful implementation of a number of applied projects. At the Academy of Sciences, many ideas arise that can be put into practice, and that can thus positively affect everyday life," said Alexandr Dejneka, head of the Division of Optics of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Numerical simulations of structures and the creation of an algorithm for their generation were carried out by CARDAM s.r.o. The company was thus able to use its know-how in the field of additive manufacturing to design suitable structures and prepare geometries for 3D printing.

"Creating an algorithm to automatically generate a mathematical structure was one of the most challenging activities in this project. In order to be able to generate a structure that has variable parameters depending on the temperature distribution in the body, it was necessary to develop a completely new solution, since nothing like this has been available until now. By using these structures, we can maximize the efficiency of heat transfer, which is becoming more and more important nowadays," commented Ondřej Kurkin, CEO of CARDAM s.r.o., on the project results.

Beneš a Lát company has a 3D printer working on the basis of metal powder sintering, which was used for the production of test structures and cooling systems that were being researched. Specializing in light and non-ferrous metal foundry, it has extensive experience in casting technology, mould design and heat exchange management. Thanks to this, it was possible to develop a solution that can be used immediately in industrial practice.

"The issue of heat transfer in castings and press moulds is the basis for achieving optimal production cycles. 3D metal printing technologies open up new possibilities for making heat transfer more efficient and thus also for shortening cycle times or improving the quality parameters of products. The joint project led us to other possibilities and directions of development. The results applied to serial production show us that it is possible to aim for the improvement of quality parameters while simultaneously shortening the production cycle, and thereby bring multiplied savings in processing costs," said Jan Lát, vice chairman of the board of directors of BENEŠ a LÁT a.s.

In the project, also the necessary simulation tools and a set of measuring boxes for verifying the behaviour of heat exchange systems were created. These can collect, visualize and analyse the temperature and pressure of the coolant and its flow in the system. In addition, several technical coatings for foundry and heat transfer were developed and an algorithm was created to design metal 3D printed heat transfer systems with ideal temperature control parameters. The results will now be offered to be utilised by private sector companies.