The Austria-based AM 4 Industry research network has published a comprehensive manual for tooling engineers to simulate additively manufactured cooling channels using OpenFoam, an open-source software platform. The guide was compiled by researchers from the Johannes Kepler University in Linz.
AM 4 Industry is a €2.1 million CORNET project that was spearheaded by ecoplus Plastics and Mechatronics Clusters in Lower Austria. The project, which set out to establish guidelines for industrial additive manufacturing, recently announced its successful conclusion. Now members of the AM 4 Industry effort are introducing publications detailing various steps in the additive process for certain applications.
In this case, Johannes Kepler University researchers have published a manual for simulating 3D printed cooling channels using OpenFoam simulation software. As we know, additive manufacturing is well suited to the production of tools with integrated cooling channels thanks to its design freedom. Being able to produce these types of parts with complex internal cooling geometries can result in superior tool performance, durability and productivity.
According to the research team, which consisted of Thomas Mitterlehner, Eva Kobler and Georg Steinbichler from the Institute of Polymer Injection Moulding and Process Automation, the optimal integration of cooling channels requires a reliable simulation process. And while several simulation platforms exist for AM, the team says many commercial programs do not support cooling channel applications.
The team from the Johannes Kepler University therefore investigated the simulation process for cooling channels by using OpenFoam. The free software platform is primarily used for simulating and solving flow problems (Computational Fluid Dynamics), though it can also be modified using other solvers and software code because it is written in C++, .
In their work, the researchers used the OpenFoam software in combination with the chtMultiRegion solver, which enabled them to study the heat exchange between a solid and fluid, as well as to develop an application-oriented example for simulating 3D printed cooling channels. All this work has been published in a free handbook, giving engineers, tooling manufacturing and researchers the necessary knowledge for utilizing OpenFoam for cooling channel simulations.
As AM 4 Industry succinctly writes: “The objective of this manual is to give users in development, simulation engineers and students an application-oriented introduction to OpenFoam, as well as an overview of how to work with it.” The entire handbook, entitled “Introduction to OpenFoam and chtMultiRegion using an application-oriented example,” can be found here.