heat exchanger, additive manufacturing, thermal performance
Heat exchangers are a recurrent element found in an abundant number of mechanical engineering systems. The design of these heat exchangers has generally remained static due to manufacturing limitations. However, recently additive manufacturing has facilitated the production of new and previously impossible heat exchanger geometries and structures by fabricating one monolithic build layer-by-layer. For example, Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) creates approximately 20-micron thick metal layers stacked on top of one another to create a cohesive metal part. Heat exchangers can be constructed in the same way. Improvements of an additively manufactured heat exchanger include using less material, reduced volume, increased thermal performance, increased reliability, and the potential to use new materials. This paper reviews the most recent developments of additively manufactured heat exchangers. Additive manufacturing is not limited to just traditional metal heat exchangers. Indeed, heat exchangers can be constructed from both ceramic and polymer materials as well. The major geometric properties that affect heat exchangers’ thermal performance are discussed. With these advancements, the question posed is whether these additive manufacturing processes can be cost competitive with traditional manufacturing techniques or if there exists a hybrid approach that takes advantages of both technologies. Lastly, the needs for further research and development of additive manufacturing of heat exchangers are discussed.