Aussie startup Conflux Technology has one of the most promising 3D printing businesses on the market, not just as a business case but for the sake of industrial society. By 3D printing heat exchangers, it can potentially increase the efficiency of all manner of equipment, from microelectronics to car engines. Now, the firm is going to be introducing its 3D printed heat exchangers to North America through a partnership with Mott Corporation.
Conflux has combined an expertise in additive manufacturing (AM) and thermal management to tackle a key element of any system that relies on or produces heat. Not only has it introduced typical AM benefits to heat exchangers, such as part consolidation and lightweighting, but it has also introduced performance benefits that increase the overall efficiency of a thermal management system. For instance, in electric vehicles and microelectronics, this means cooling a system while using less energy in the process. If every system that had a heat exchanger relied on an optimized, 3D printed alternative, the energy savings could be more impactful than the switch from incandescent lighting to LEDs.
Now, the company will be able to take its heat exchangers to the North American market via Mott. For some 60 years, the Connecticut-based company has been working in the field of filtration and flow applications, offering engineering solutions from the prototype up to the manufacturing stages of development. This includes offering AM capabilities for porous metal parts using laser powder bed fusion, as well as polymer and ceramics 3D printing. In other words, it seems to be a perfect partner for Conflux.
“Working with Conflux expands our ability to solve our customers’ toughest thermal challenges in one integrated solution,” says Sean Kane, Vice President of Business Development & Strategy at Mott.
“With complementary technologies plus a mutual commitment to excellence, we’re excited to cooperate with Mott on delivering our industry leading thermal management solutions to customers across North America” said Dan Woodford, Chief Product Officer at Conflux Technology.
As Mott already offers AM services for flow management, it seems that it would simply need to introduce existing customers to Conflux’s solutions. The key hurdle to mass adoption would appear to be scaling up the technology to produce heat exchangers in numbers sufficient to lower costs. And that is the issue faced by the metal 3D printing industry as a whole. Metal binder jet has been proposed as the means of achieving this, but would it work with Conflux’s existing designs? Possibly not.
Regardless, there is plenty of room for a competitor to beat Conflux to the punch when it comes to mass production of 3D printed heat exchangers. Whoever can achieve it will bring a sea change to industrial society as a whole.
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