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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Additive Manufacturing of Heat Pipe Wicks, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Wick properties are often the limiting factor in a heat pipe design. Current technology uses conventional sintering of metal powders, screen wick, or grooves to fabricate realtively simplistic wick geometries. Additive manufacturing (laser sintering) of a porous structure would allow much greater freedom in defining the wick geometry and properties. One example is the RDU thermosyphon wick. Valuable real estate was consumed for a liquid reservoir for freeze/thaw tolerance. A more complex laser-sintered geometry could put the reservoir in the center, allowing greater evaporator area, lower heat flux, and lower DT. Another example is loop heat pipes, which are in limited use due to the cost. Laser sintering of an LHP directly in to the evaporator bodye could greatly lower cost, making LHP vaible for commercial use. Applying laser sintering to develop complex wick geometries can greatly extend heat pipe heat transport capabilities and lower cost. More »

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