Additive Manufacturing

PWR have high temperature polymer SLA and aluminium powder DMLS additive manufacturing machines in house, which together with specific technical agreements, allows us to produce world leading aluminium heat exchangers featuring super thin walls and minimal use of support structure.

PWR have formed a technical partnership with US based additive manufacturing machine maker Velo 3D. This strategic partnership has allowed PWR to take possession of the world’s first Velo 3D Sapphire machine suitable for Aluminium powder. Velo 3D are already a disrupter in the additive Aerospace market for Titanium and Inconel due to their unrivalled 200:1 height to thickness build ratio and 10° unsupported build angles.

Along with producing heat exchangers PWR makes use of additive manufacturing methods to rapidly produce prototype test parts and along with producing heat exchanger tanks and other cooling components not possible with traditional manufacturing methods.

PWR Additive Manufacturing has recently undertaken a significant material transition, shifting from F357 to CP1 for all aluminium printing. This change is a result of a successful collaboration project involving Constellium, PWR, and Velo3D. The new material, Aheadd CP1, is an aluminium alloy specifically designed for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) and holds several advantages over F357.

Aheadd CP1 was developed by Constellium, a global manufacturer known for producing aluminium rolled products, extruded products, and structural parts. Unlike F357, which was originally developed for casting and later adopted for LPBF, CP1 has been specifically tailored for LPBF applications. It offers increased thermal conductivity benefits, making it particularly suitable for the additive manufacturing of heat exchangers.

The advantages of Aheadd CP1 for LPBF processing are noteworthy, such as the ability to print with both 50um and 100um layer thickness, that provides flexibility in part resolution and print productivity.

CP1 also has a simplified heat treatment process, meaning there is no need for solution treatment, or quenching, and only needs to be aged at 400°C for 4 hours to produce mechanical properties comparable to superior to T6 F357.

The absence of magnesium and silicone mean CP1 can be welded and brazed, which allows us to combine the capabilities for complex geometries provided by additive manufacturing with our high performing cooling solutions manufactured by traditional methods.

Many aerospace applications require chemical processing and surface treatment, and due to the alloy composition of CP1 we can apply both Type I and Type II anodising treatments, as well as chemical conversion to meet spec MIL-DTL-5541 Type 2 Class 1A.

Additionally, Aheadd CP1 has gained approval from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for use in Formula One from 2024. PWR’s in-house Velo3D Sapphire and E-Plus machines are some of the very few machines available with the capability to print this advanced material.