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Dutkowski, K.;  Kruzel, M.;  Rokosz, K. The Additive Manufacturing. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 19 June 2024).
Dutkowski K,  Kruzel M,  Rokosz K. The Additive Manufacturing. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 19, 2024.
Dutkowski, Krzysztof, Marcin Kruzel, Krzysztof Rokosz. "The Additive Manufacturing" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 19, 2024).
Dutkowski, K.,  Kruzel, M., & Rokosz, K. (2022, November 15). The Additive Manufacturing. In Encyclopedia.
Dutkowski, Krzysztof, et al. "The Additive Manufacturing." Encyclopedia. Web. 15 November, 2022.
The Additive Manufacturing

The design of heat exchangers may change dramatically through the use of additive manufacturing (AM). Additive manufacturing, colloquially known as 3D printing, enables the production of monolithic metal bodies, devoid of contact resistance.

TPMS additive manufacturing 3D printing

1. Introduction

One of the features of Industry 4.0 is the use of intelligent manufacturing technologies [1]. These include, but are not limited to, additive manufacturing (AM). Additive manufacturing enables the materialization of virtually any solid created using computer programs for 3D design. It was natural, then, that the engineering reached for shapes that were previously impossible or economically unjustified to manufacture. Some of these shapes are found in nature. One of them is the minimal surface. Its elementary form, duplicated in three directions, is the so-called triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS). TPMS structures have been discovered in the structure of a butterfly’s wing or the scales of a weevil beetle [2]. Tests of TPMS structures obtained by AM technology show that thanks to the high surface to volume ratio [3][4][5], they are characterized by a low weight [6][7], a high stiffness [8][9][10][11][12][13], endurance [14][15][16][17][18], the ability to absorb energy [19][20][21][22], and a lack of edges which excludes places where mechanical stresses may arise [23][24][25].
The use of AM for the production of heat exchange devices seems to be a logical continuation of engineering research in terms of the possibility of using the TPMS. However, the use of many materials and alloys typical for the field of thermal engineering (e.g., pure copper [26]), encounters numerous barriers [27] in the manufacturing process with AM technologies. Overcoming them becomes a current challenge, as it is not difficult to imagine the advantages of a monolithic heat exchanger structure devoid of local thermal resistances hitherto existing in the place of various parts or materials that make up the heat exchanger.

2. Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing was first developed in the late 1980s [28] and combines pieces of material, usually layer by layer, to produce a coherent part. Additive manufacturing using a variety of materials, including metal, offers more design freedom than conventional processes. It enables the production of elements with a geometry impossible to obtain with conventional technologies [29]. It was supposed to be used for prototyping, but AM has become so widespread that it is now used to manufacture finished products in industrial quantities [29]. The AM technology has gained popularity thanks to its advantages, the most important of which are: rapid prototyping, the acceleration of works in the research and development area, the production of complex elements or those impossible to produce with other technologies, the creation of ready-made elements without the need to manufacture subassemblies, no need to use many different machines, the possibility of producing elements of diametrically different shapes on one device, and the possibility of ensuring continuity of production by reprinting the missing components [30].

2.1. Additive Manufacturing Methods

According to [31], AM techniques are divided into seven elementary methods: binder jetting, directed energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination, and vat photopolymerization.
Binder jetting (BJ) was invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993 [32]. It consists of combining particles of dry powder with a liquid binder [33]. Layer by layer, the powder and then the binder are applied to the abruptly descending bed. This method is usually used to form elements based on ceramic powders [34], metals, biomaterials, glass, polymers, and combinations thereof [35]. Typically, phosphoric acid, citric acid, a polymer solution, or water is used as the binding material [36]. Manufactured elements always require further treatment, such as powder removal and sintering, and are characterized by high porosity [32].
Powder bed fusion (PBF) is an additive manufacturing method that selectively heats the material powder with a laser beam or electrons [37]. The powder is fed in a controlled thickness layer by layer and fills the successive print planes. The powder is cured only at the point where the workpiece is formed, and the remainder of the powder can support inclined or horizontal surfaces that would normally require the construction of temporary support structures. Removal of the supporting structures from the confined space (e.g., limited by the walls of the exchanger) is practically impossible. The advantage of the method is that the removal of the remaining loose powder filling the voids is not a problem. Depending on the heat source (light beam, electron beam), two subgroups of solutions are distinguished: laser PBF (L-PBF) and electron beam PBF (EB-PBF) [38]. Selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), electron beam melting (EBM), and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) are the elementary AM techniques included in the PBF method. In the former PBF technology, the working material is usually a polymer, and in the latter, a metal [39].
Directed energy deposition (DED) is an AM method in which powder or wire is fed, by means of a multiaxis system of nozzles, to the point of focusing a laser beam or an electron beam. The material, most often a metal or alloy (e.g., Ti, Co-Cr, Inconel, NiTi), in an inert gas atmosphere and at a temperature above 3000 °C, melts, and then cools down to form a compact 3D geometry [32]. The DED method eliminates the need to spread the powder over the entire layer, reducing its consumption, and the use of multiple nozzles allows for the simultaneous supply of various materials to the liquid pool. [40]. The method allows you to create large-size geometries, but requires further machining [38]. Among the methods of directed energy deposition, the following stand out: laser-engineered net shaping (LENS) [40], wire and arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) [41] and 3D laser cladding (CLAD) [32].
Material extrusion (ME), also known as extrusion free-forming (EFF), is a technique of producing 3D objects by extruding molten plastic through a moving nozzle on a step (with each printed layer), lowering the base [42]. Fused deposition modeling (FDM), also called fused filament fabrication (FFF) [43], is one of the most widely used techniques for creating objects using this method [42] and consists of extruding the molten polymer fiber through a die. Direct ink writing (DIW) and paste extrusion [39] are other techniques of this method, where the material extruded at room temperature is solidified due to thermal action or UV radiation. The shape of the detail is created by applying successive layers. Polymer resins, polymer solutions, and gels are the main materials used in this additive manufacturing technique.
Material jetting (MJ) is a method of additive manufacturing that consists of “shooting” a low-viscosity liquid, containing a solvent, a polymer, or a suspension of nanoparticles, through a nozzle onto the platform, and then drying the layers (thermal or UV rays). The main techniques for this method are drop-on-demand (DOD) and PolyJet [39]. These methods differ from each other in the number of nozzles feeding the material. Material jetting allows the application of thin layers of the working material, but cracks may form in the material as a result of drying [33].
Sheet lamination is an incremental method that creates an object by overlapping successive thin sheets of metal, paper, ceramics, and polymer. The next sheet is applied after the previous sheet of material is cut (usually with a laser). There is an adhesive layer between the sheets that allows the sheets to be joined [41], or it can be the result of applying heat (laser beam) [35]. An example of the latter method is laminated objective manufacturing (LOM) [36]. Another method of bonding is the use of ultrasound. It takes place through ultrasonic AM (UAM) technology and is used for the production of elements based on aluminum, copper, and stainless steel [32].
Vat photopolymerization is an incremental method in which a tray is inserted into a vat filled with photosensitive resin with additives (ceramic powders), to which the manufactured object will be attached. The tray moves up or down and the beam (UV radiation—stereolithography (SLA [44][45][46][47][48][49], sometimes labeled as SL [40][43][50]); lights—digital light processing (DLP) [39]; near-infrared photons—two-photon lithography (TPL)) hardens the material.
Technology that breaks with the layer-by-layer printing convention changes its classification from vat photopolymerization to continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) [39]. In this technology, the mechanical production process, layer by layer, was replaced by a photochemical process and it hardens the resin with a UV light projected on the entire surface of the “printout”. At the same time, the areas of the resin that should not undergo polymerization are protected with oxygen fed by the printer. The image projected from the transparent bottom of the vessel with resin smoothly changes with the progress in the production of the detail. The detail is attached at the bottom to the upward-moving support and emerges from the resin bath [36]. The advantage of the CLIP method, in addition to the smooth walls of the body devoid of the features of layered additive manufacturing, is the reduction of the manufacturing time. Thanks to the projection of the image reflecting the entire contour of the object in a given cross-section, the production time of the elements can be reduced from a few hours (by the method of layered increments) to a few minutes (CLIP).

2.2. Additive Manufacturing—From CAD to CAM

The production of an element by additive manufacturing is preceded by several steps. The first is to prepare a digital three-dimensional model of an element. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, the 3D geometry is made. There are many commercial and free CAD programs available for 3D modeling. Reverse engineering can also be used to model 3D objects. Reverse engineering is a nondestructive technology that scans existing objects with rays (typically X-rays) in order to obtain a digital image of them [28]. Most often, it requires additional actions to remove the errors that arose during scanning.
The next step is to save the model as a file whose structure is recognizable by printing devices. Usually these are files with the .STL, .OBJ, or .AMF extension.
The widely used file format is the .STL (Stereo Lithography) format. The .STL file format was developed in 1987 by 3D Systems. In the .STL file, the outer surface of a solid is represented by a mesh of planar surfaces (triangles). The more accurate the representation of a curved surface is, the greater the number of triangular surfaces, and more advanced algorithms are required to optimize the topography and reduce data processing time [51]. The disadvantages of the .STL format include: redundant data; the inability to collect data describing various materials, colors, and textures; no possibility to validate the transformed solid; the appearance of errors with the incorrect definitions of triangles; the resulting file is time-consuming to improve; and no information about units (e.g., inch/mm). Errors can arise in the process of converting the geometry to its mesh representation, as it is required to find and fill in missing triangles, make connections of missing edges, or “flip” the triangle to indicate the side on which the inner/outer space of the model is located. Repair of a model saved in .STL format is possible thanks to programs such as MeshLab, 3DPrintCloud, Netfabb, etc. The advantages of the .STL standards are simplicity (requires only standard surface triangulation algorithms); the ability to present, store, and exchange data between different devices; easy file division into smaller ones; the form has been unchanged for years (no need for additional training); implementation in almost all commercial CAD programs; and use of the format by virtually all manufacturers of AM machines. For this reason, .STL files are the most commonly used file type and are some kind of standard in AM, although this format has not yet been officially standardized [52].
The .OBJ format was developed by Wavefront Technologies. Due to the open-source license, it has been adopted by producers of CAD programs. The advantage of the format is the ability to save (in an additional file—template library .MTL) information about colors and various materials used during part printing. Thanks to the possibility of dividing the surface of the solid into polygons and the use of curves, it was possible to reduce the number of mesh elements reflecting the printed surface, which makes the file size smaller than in the case of .STL. Due to the abovementioned advantages, the .OBJ file has become the next most frequently used 3D model data representation format in the AM industry. The biggest disadvantage of the .OBJ format is that it is more complicated, which makes it difficult to repair; this is compounded by having only a small group of programs for editing .OBJ files [53].
There is also the .AMF format, introduced in 2009. Since 2013, it has been standardized (ISO/ASTM 52915) and formally became the STL 2.0 standard. It allows you to define the surface of a solid by using curved triangles, which significantly reduced the number of planar triangular surfaces that would be required in the .STL format. In addition, it allows you to record information about the surface microstructure or a smooth transition between different types of materials. This .AMF format is far superior to the .STL format and seems to be a future-proof solution in terms of quality and quantity of stored data, but has not yet been widely implemented by AM device manufacturers. This is due to the fact that the .AMF format is undergoing constant development, and the competition for it, at the moment, is the aforementioned .OBJ format [53].
For the final preparation of the printing, the computer file containing information about the object requires further processing. In the printer’s software or CAD/CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) programs, the final preparation of the printing takes place, which consists of “cutting” the geometry into layers with a thickness resulting from the technical capabilities of the printer. Additionally, printing parameters are selected, such as: printing speed, filling the space between the surfaces of the triangle mesh, designing additional supporting structures (if required), etc. This information is saved in the file in the form of a command line, the so-called G-code, which is recognizable by the printing device [39].
Performing all the abovementioned activities results in the proper preparation of the project for the production of a detail with the AM technology.

2.3. Additive Manufacturing of Lattice Structures

The use of additive manufacturing technology means that many structures/solids, previously impossible to be made with classical technologies, can be made entirely using one machine [54]. Such solids are, for example, lattice structures. Lattice structures are a system of vertices connected with each other by bars or surfaces in repeatable sections, which, in effect, form one integrated whole with a complex internal geometry. It is the complex internal geometry that makes lattice structures very often impossible to produce with traditional technologies. Lattice structures can be self-supporting or fill between the walls of the solid. The lattice filling of the solid causes a significant decrease in its mass [55][56] while maintaining stiffness [57], strength [58][59][60], and high energy absorption and dissipation capacity [61]. The lattice structure can be designed to exhibit different mechanical properties in different directions, making them significantly different from the properties of the material used for their production. [62]. For the abovementioned reasons, the area of application of lattice structures is becoming wider and includes: mechanical engineering [63][64][65][66][67], where solutions are sought to ensure lightweight structures with unchanged mechanical properties (aviation [68], architectural materials [69]), and biological engineering (bone structures [70]) and energy (construction of heat exchangers [71] with a developed heat exchange surface [72], including for waste heat recovery [73], refrigeration applications [74], thermal desalination processes [75], pool and flow boiling [76], wavy microchannel heat exchangers [77], and thermal management of electric motors [78]). Lattice structures have become an alternative to random structures (foam structures, stochastic networks). The advantage of random structures is their lightness and strength, but the disadvantage is the lack of repeatability. Additive manufacturing enables the production of structural elements designed on the basis of randomness algorithms. A review of methods for creating controlled stochastic networks is presented in paper [72].
The process of designing lattice structures consists of using the results of experimental research and computer simulations, which show the influence of the type of material, manufacturing techniques, geometry, or the volume fraction of a structure on its physical, mechanical, and acoustic properties [79][80]. The engineer optimizes the topology according to his own requirements: minimal weight, high surface area to volume ratio, maximum rigidity, high permeability, high thermal conductivity, large solid–liquid contact area, etc. [81].
An interesting example of surface lattice structures are the so-called triple periodic minimal surfaces (TPMSs). These structures have a stiffness greater than that of other lattice structures of comparable mass [82][83][84].


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