Stephen Mellor, Head of Business Development
“The 100-year-old assembly line stands disrupted.” Defying convention, additive manufacturing is reimagining production processes with ideation to production happening in drastically small timeframes and with lesser energy consumption. As additive manufacturing makes rapid inroads across diverse sectors, poised at the forefront of this revolution on an equal footing is HiETA—challenging conventional wisdom in both design and manufacturing. “Design is the way to gain greater advantages from additive manufacturing. The HiETA approach is to use design and 3D printing together to create thermal engineering and lightweight products that have multiple functions and deliver immense value,” says Stephen Mellor, Head of Business Development, HiETA.
HiETA’s success stems from designing components that break conventional barriers and beliefs, enabling their customers to capture the benefits of the process. As opposed to just designing to obtain the 45 degree critical angle or maximum overhangs and minimum feature sizes, he explains, “The design for 3D printing has to take into account the whole value chain, the 3D printing, removal of powder, machining, heat treatments and inspection process, and more to gain maximum benefits.”
To reap the maximum benefits, the HiETA team works closely with their customers and adopts a collaborative approach to evaluate their systems and down-select the best possible options for an optimal design. The company follows specific guidelines for certain geometries and material combinations. In terms of key post-processing steps such as powder removal, the company has spent a lot of time understanding and developing a library of knowledge that guides their design process to deliver the maximum value to their clients.
What differentiates HiETA from their competitors is the coupling of thermal management and additive manufacturing.
The HiETA approach is to use design and 3D printing together to create thermal engineering products that have multiple functions and deliver immense valu
“We have an internal design capability around thermal engineering and fluid dynamics and when coupled with our understanding of additive manufacturing, it’s very powerful,” adds Mellor. But what truly sets them apart is their agile and world-class team that comprises experts well versed in both thermal management and additive manufacturing to create products that are lighter, smaller, high performing and long-lasting.
HiETA’s design engineering excellence has enabled a multitude of organisations in the aerospace, automotive, defence, and energy industries, realise energy efficiency and performance through additive manufacturing. In an implementation highlight, an automotive OEM was looking for a compact heat exchanger for a small gas turbine to be used in a range extender application. HiETA was not only successful in creating a compact heat exchanger that was much smaller and lighter than the ones available in the market, but the client could also get an overall improvement on cycle efficiency through reducing the losses elsewhere in the system. As the HiETA team had managed to integrate some components and remove few manifolds and complex interfacing, the efficiency of the system improved while lowering the cost drastically. “It’s a good example of delivering a significant benefit in the case of a very small power-dense system through capturing the design benefits of the process in terms of looking beyond a part for part replacement,” says Mellor.
Mellor also touches on the important aspect of certification in the additive manufacturing space, a vital requisite for the aerospace industry, for instance, to get approval for safety-critical products. He adds, “As there is a vast amount of data, it’s crucial to understand the right data and create a process that can be certified.” Firstly, the company collects a good amount of data on the machine to certify that the component is good. Then they measure emissions through in process monitoring and build coupons that demonstrate HiETA’s stable process.
For the journey ahead, HiETA looks forward to accomplishing their AS9100 certification and increasing manufacturing capability. Also on the cards are plans to spread its wings across the U.S. and Europe.