Fuchshofer Advanced Manufacturing - FAM
Bionic airflow optimization of the valve duct using additive manufacturing
Fuchshofer Advanced Manufacturing - FAM, the CNC company with a long-lasting experience, has been producing complex CNC components and finding new manufacturing and processing methods since 1994. The company took a turn in 2017 and is now fully concentrated on additive manufacturing.
The main objective of the innovation project within the KET4CleanProduction was to develop an optimized valve duct within a novel biomimetic approach that exhibits a decreased pressure loss and, consequently, a lower power consumption compared to the current ones. Valve blocks are presently made from solid metal blocks, primarily steel and aluminium. No attempts have been made to substitute the manufacturing process because it is overall the most economical way to produce and use valve blocks. However, it does so at the expense of environmental protection. For that reason, the company’s vision was to substitute this process with additive manufacturing combined with biomimetic optimization, aiming to improve both economic viability and the reduction of environmental pollution. The novelty in this approach is the combination of biomimicry, computational fluid dynamics(CFD) and advanced (digital) manufacturing to create a solution of the next generation.
KET Technology Centers involved
Seamthesis Srl | Italy
Joanneum Research | Austria
The fabrication of the new valve blocks metal prototypes was conducted using the Powder Bed Fusion process (Additive Manufacturing), according to the application of the DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) principles.
A new process has been defined in every detail by the definition of the new single manufacturing step and the process parameters. Some of the achieved benefits are higher safety for workers and the environment because of a shrunk and automated process and lower quantity of recyclable raw material since metal powders are used only as necessary, so no scraps to be recycled are produced. The unprocessed powders are sieved and used in subsequent lots. That shortens the processing time and reduces energy consumption because there are not heavy moving machine parts in the new process, and there is no contact between the parts and tools (laser). The energy is used to generate a maximum of 400 W laser. Higher repeatability and reproducibility are achieved due to automatisation. Further, waste and pollution reduction is accomplished because no tools are needed anymore, so there are no parts to be recycled and no technical fluids like oils for lubrication. In the end, no scraps are produced, as it happens by chip removal technologies and the whole process benefits from lower manufacturing costs.
Within this project, there were several key success factors. The main idea was to search the nature for the general principles to solve the problem.
The synchronisation of very different skills, coming from a heterogeneous working group (design science, metallurgy, manufacturing and laboratory), was vitally important. Moreover, the ability to manage all those very different components helped to reach the goal smoothly and efficiently. Due to all that, the company is extremely satisfied with the project.