Metal additive manufacturing (AM) of heat exchanger enables custom and conformal designs for a wide range of applications. However, one challenge with metal AM is the resultant surface roughness formed when using this process which is non-existent during traditional manufacturing processes. The goal in this study is to explore how this roughness impacts the pressure drop and flow field of a commonly used heat exchanger surface called an offset strip fin (OSF). Two OSF of the same geometry are tested: one with an average fin roughness of 34 µm from metal AM and the other with an average fin roughness 2.5 µm, used as a baseline. The roughness from the metal AM process increased pressure losses and transitioned the flow to turbulent-like behavior at lower Reynolds numbers when compared with the smooth fin. Laser Doppler Velocimetry (LDV) measurements captured the row number in the fin array where transition from laminar to turbulent-like flow occurred. The location of transition from low to high turbulence levels occurred earlier in the fin array as the Reynolds number was increased for the smooth and rough fins. Wake profiles of time-averaged axial velocity were similar between the rough and smooth fins, with the rough fins having higher levels of turbulence intensity and less symmetric wake profiles. Overall, this study indicates that a pressure loss penalty is associated with using metal AM OSF due to the resultant surface roughness and an earlier transition to turbulent-like flow.

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