Heat from electronics is increasing in all industries including power generation, high power electronics, manufacturing, and automotive. Increasingly there is a need for very high efficiency thermal management devices that can pull heat out of a small area at higher and higher rates. Historically these specialty heat exchangers have been made through traditional CNC machining. This limits the shape of the internal passageway to planar arrays of cross drilled holes. More complicated three-dimensional devices can be made with a series of interlocking machined components using brazing or diffusion bonding. However, these are expensive and time consuming to produce and assemble.
Metal 3D printing technologies have the promise of creating parts with complex internal geometries not possible with conventional manufacturing approaches. However, this goal has not been realized in metal 3D printing due to the inability to build parts composed of metals with high thermal conductivity by most rapid prototyping methods. Copper and aluminum, the industrial metals with the highest thermal conductivity, have been difficult for powder bed 3D printers due to high reflectivity and thermal conductivity.
The solid-state nature of Fabrisonic’s welding process, allows UAM to readily bond aluminums and coppers. Additionally all SonicLayer machines are based off of traditional 3-Axis CNC mills. Thus, the welding process can be stopped at any point and three dimensional channels can be machined. Subsequently, the additive process continues to build up metal sealing in complex 3D flow paths. The x-ray image at right (1) illustrates the ability for complex internal flow paths which are impossible with traditional manufacturing methods.
The combination of additive and subtractive processes allows for internal passageways with almost unlimited geometry. Internal paths can move up down, left right, and change cross section at the designer’s discretion. Additionally, the hybrid nature of SonicLayer machines enables unique flow path cross sections. If needed, machining can be used at every layer to tailor the shape of the path.
In aerospace aluminums, Fabrisonic has built thermal management devices with burst pressures in excess of 3000PSI. In copper, similar structures routinely pass burst tests to 4000PSI. Both copper and aluminum structures have passed stringent helium leak checks.