Abstract

Additive manufacturing (AM) enables improved heat exchanger (HX) designs where performance is based on the achievable geometry. However, consequences of the AM process that affect HX performance such as increased surface roughness, dimensional tolerance issues, and defects like cracks may vary among identically designed AM parts due to AM machine settings. This paper experimentally compares the thermal and hydraulic performance of three AM HXs built using a traditionally manufactured, stamped aluminum oil cooler design. The AM HXs exhibited significantly higher air-side pressure drop and higher heat transfer rate than the traditional HX in large part due to increased AM surface roughness. Among AM HXs, one AM HX had notably higher heat transfer rate and air-side pressure drop due to poor print quality on the thin air-side fin features. The fin thickness among AM HXs also varied by about 15%, and there were only slight differences in surface roughness. This study indicates that functional HXs built using AM vary in performance even when the same digital model is used to print them and that AM HXs as a group can perform considerably differently than their traditional counterparts.

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