Colorado Patent of the Month – June 2023

Fluid systems are essential components in various industries, serving purposes such as fluid transfer, heat exchange, and flow conditioning. However, traditional approaches to designing and manufacturing fluid interacting structures, like heat exchangers or airfoils, have limitations in optimizing performance across the entire length of the system. Special Aerospace Services, LLC (SAS), a renowned inventor in the aerospace industry, has introduced a groundbreaking solution by leveraging additive manufacturing technologies.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, allows for the creation of objects by adding material layer by layer based on a 3D model. This technology offers unparalleled design freedom and the ability to create complex geometries and features that were previously impossible with traditional manufacturing methods. SAS has harnessed this potential to manipulate and optimize the surface topology of fluid interacting structures.

By incorporating surface features like dimples, fins, boundary layer disruptors, and biomimicry surface textures, SAS can locally vary the surface topology to improve performance parameters such as flow friction, heat transfer, turbulence, and fluid degradation. These features can be adjusted in size, shape, and number, and combined strategically to achieve the desired results. Additionally, manufacturing artifacts like surface roughness and subsurface porosity can also be utilized to further enhance performance. The aspect of additive manufacturing also adds a degree of precision that was near impossible to achieve at scale before.

The process begins with defining the design objectives for the article, such as minimizing fluid friction loss and maximizing heat transfer. A set of candidate surface topology designs is assembled, each representing a different configuration of surface features. Performance measurements are quantified for each design, and the designs are categorized based on their ability to meet the design objectives. The optimization process may employ advanced techniques like generative design or topology optimization algorithms.

Once the optimal surface designs are selected for specific locations along the fluid path, additive manufacturing specifications are generated. These specifications outline the manufacturing parameters required to produce the desired surface topology. SAS then employs additive manufacturing techniques to fabricate the articles, resulting in fluid interacting structures that meet the design objectives and exhibit improved overall performance.

The applications for this revolutionary approach are extensive. Fluid manifolds, airfoils, and heat exchangers are just a few examples where SAS’s additive manufacturing techniques can be applied. For instance, in the aerospace industry, SAS’s fluid manifolds can enhance the performance of liquid rocket engines, improving fluid flow, heat transfer, and overall system efficiency.

Special Aerospace Services is a tactical engineering and advanced manufacturing firm with more than a decade of experience providing cutting-edge solutions to Aerospace, Aviation, Defense and Energy organizations.

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