Additive manufacturing has been growing in capabilities and effectiveness for more than a decade, but it has been only recently that the technology has matured enough to breakthrough into many industries. While polymer resins and plastics were forerunners for additive manufacturing (or 3D printing), the aerospace industry played a significant role in the development of metal printing. PWR has taken advantage of the early development of both resin and metal printing while working with specific partners to adapt the technology to thermal management applications. PWR focuses on plastic and metal additive processes and materials that support our business model of engineering the unfair advantage and supplying customers with the highest quality and shortest lead time.
PWR is leading the thermal management industry with specific technology developments to apply metal additive manufacturing to improve the performance and manufacturing of our products. The laser powder bed fusion process of aluminium forms the basis of the metal additive manufacturing process at PWR. As was recently announced, PWR has chosen VELO3D as a partner to develop printing of next-generation, high-performance heat exchangers and thermal management products. The unique VELO3D printing process allows for support-free or fully floating parts which reduces labor and lead time. The support free nature of the printing can be carried down to angles as low as 10o which contributes to superior surface finishes and low porosity. For example, walls < 0.3mm can be printed with no porosity while structures < 0.2mm are possible. For the customer, this means thinner, more complex heat exchanger designs with unmatched performance. PWR anticipates the use of metal additive manufacturing in custom automotive, military, aerospace and industrial products.
PWR has in-house capability for printing polymer resins using a Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) printer powered by Digital Light Projector (DLP). This type of layer-by-layer additive manufacturing is capable of fabricating detailed parts due to the use of light to cross-link (or join) the photo-reactive polymer resins. PWR is using the SLA process primarily to support the fabrication of parts using the PerForm resin by Somos. This material is building a reputation in manufacturing and the automotive industry due to its high strength and high temperature resistance. Specifically, the PerForm material can be printed with accuracy of 0.08-0.10mm while having tensile strengths up to 80 MPa. The polymer resin exhibits some of the highest temperature compatibility with heat deflection temperature (HDT) as high as 268oC. These materials properties allow PWR to take advantage of PerForm for fast tooling as well as integration with metal parts in heat exchangers to save weight, speed lead time and improve shock resistance.
To learn more about additive manufacturing and PWR, please contact our engineering team to discuss your application.