Conflux reaches mass customization with a new line of 3D printed heat exchangers – 3DPrint.com
Conflux has specialized in the manufacture of heat exchangers since its inception. Previously, the company collaborated with GKN to make its technology available in Europe. We interviewed CEO Michael Fuller, including about 3DPOD. We also saw how the startup got a Series A round. The next step in Conflux’s development is the mass customization of its heat exchange products.
So far, Conflux offers individually designed heat exchangers to order. Typically aimed at F1 teams and high-end industrial applications, these high-value heatsinks are all unique and designed specifically for their applications. All is well, of course, but it will not really evolve.
Now. the company has developed an annular charge air cooler (WCAC) heat exchanger. WCAC heat exchangers are all the rage in automobiles because they can potentially be more efficient at engine cooling than plate or other heat exchangers. WCACs could potentially improve mileage, top speed and reduce air conditioning consumption in passenger cars. In racing, they probably won’t focus too much on air conditioning consumption, but would be very happy with the other potential benefits.
Conflux’s 3D-printed WCAC device is said to be more efficient than its conventionally manufactured counterparts. Annular design means it has a ring or cylindrical shape. Using Conflux Technologies’ proprietary algorithms and practices, the company now claims that its powder bed fusion WCAC heat exchanger outperforms conventionally manufactured ones with:
- 15% less core volume
- 24% reduction in air side pressure drop
- 82% reduction in coolant pressure drop
- 39% reduction in wet weight
- 31% reduction in dry weight
It’s all very impressive.
“Customers were commenting on both the detail of the parts and the surface finish. They couldn’t believe the level of detail within the WCAC and the way it was designed. This reinforced their understanding that Confusion is one step ahead of our competitors with what we have presented. Customers responded in amazement and disbelief as they held up a part designed by our engineers incorporating complex AM geometries into a production-ready WCAC,” Ben Batagol, Confusionsaid the business development manager of .
¨I’m really excited about the product roadmap for Confusion AM technology heat exchangers. The team has made significant progress in developing in-house tools that deliver very high performance without compromising quality. I’m really proud of everyone at Confusion for launching the next phase of our business with the WCAC product line. Confusion has bundled our expertise in first-principles calculations, basic engineering design and additive manufacturing into a set of tools that can quickly inform a solution,” said Dan Woodford, Confusionis the new Chief Product Officer.
The exchanger is also distinguished by its complex geometry and its “micro-characteristics impossible to obtain with traditional manufacturing”. This is exciting as it indicates that the team has developed unique textures and shapes to improve the performance of the heat exchanger. Such designs could lead to more benefits for 3D printing per se.
Conflux also states that the design and thin walls are optimized for “changing thermo-physical properties of the working fluids throughout the heat exchanger.” This means they can vary the design across the heat exchanger depending on what is needed at that exact point, which is easier to do with 3D printing than with other technology.
What I like the most, however, is that the design is adaptable, so it can be produced in many different sizes. The company also notes that “the Conflux WCAC is designed to be configured. Conflux can quickly deliver a test part to you using our rapid sizing process, based on your boundary conditions.
This makes Conflux heat exchangers a bespoke product, in which many hours of work are required for customization into something that can be sent to a customer very quickly. The business can therefore generate much more money per minute with less effort to start. This makes the business much more scalable and could be the difference in some cases between selecting a Conflux device and a traditionally manufactured product. For racing, teams would find it much easier to order something to test without exchanging information that they would like to keep confidential. This type of development could really boost the fortunes of Conflux and should be adapted by all players in this market.
In May 2021, I asked in an article, “Should we mass-customize heat exchangers?” I think that’s a definite “yes” to Conflux.
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