Complex hydraulic components made via metal 3D printing can incorporate details that would be difficult or impossible to duplicate through conventional machining, and weight and size are reduced without compromising performance.
Without the limitations of conventional machining, parts can be designed for the most efficient combination of production and performance. And internal channels can be optimized for higher flow and lower pressure drop. It’s also possible to produce several different prototypes within hours to determine the best design. Furthermore, components can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel (AISI 316L), aluminum, titanium, and new materials still under development. Sources of potential leakage from auxiliary drilling and subsequent plugging are eliminated.
What About Material Properties?
Because metal 3D printing is relatively new to the field of hydraulics, it raises the question of how the material properties of 3D-printed parts compare to those made by traditional processes. Although typical mechanical properties such as tensile strength, yield strength, and modulus of elasticity appear to be comparable, depending on material choice, the high pressures often encountered in hydraulic systems merit additional consideration.
With proper material choice and design, components can be made to withstand these pressures, but they also may encounter shock and pressure pulsations, which are more difficult to accommodate. Manifolds, for example, often have been made from ductile iron or other ductile materials to handle these pulsations, but these materials do not lend themselves to the additive-manufacturing process. Iron and carbon steel materials also fall into that category, because the source material must exist in powder form.
Alberto Tacconelli, Aidro managing Director, says that the mechanical proprieties of the 3D printed materials are equivalent to (or in some cases better than) metals produced from bar stock. The results, he adds, are as much the result of design as material.
See our video for more information about 3D printing https://youtu.be/Baz0W2h3ivs
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