Conflux Technology uses the Australian Synchrotron, which is operated by ANSTO, as part of its advanced development process for metal 3D printed heat exchangers. It’s certainly a unique tool for NDT in any R&D workflow.
Over the years, the Australian company has shown that using additive manufacturing to build heat exchangers has significant geometrical advantages, that cannot be achieved with brazing or subtractive manufacturing processes. However, AM also brings new challenges to overcome. For example, identifying possible failures in thin walls can be hard with complex internal geometry in a monolithic component. The Synchrotron allows Conflux to see anomalies hidden inside completed parts by way of (incredibly advanced) CT (computer tomography) scanning.
The Australian Synchrotron (located in Clayton, Victoria) uses electrons to produce intense beams of light more than a million times brighter than the sun. Traveling at about 299,792kms (186,282mps), which is practically the speed of light, the Synchrotron applies magnetic fields to ‘synchronize’ and force these high energy electrons into a circular orbit. The perturbation of these electrons results in an intense beam of x-rays that can be harnessed to investigate our heat exchangers on a sub-macroscopic level.
With the scale and resolution, this gives, Conflux’s inspection capability is vastly increased. The process of sorting through up to a terabyte of cross-section data is considerable. To handle this kind of data is why CDs and even the Internet protocols were invented at CERN, the European accelerator. Conflux has developed a proprietary analysis software called Conflux Quantify to analyze wall thickness, surface roughness and feature distances. It also allows detection and identification of any structural anomalies much quicker than a manual review process.
In a video published on LinkedIn, Conflux shows circular images that represent a cross-section of two micro tubes – one is built using “standard” parameters, the second using Conflux’s custom parameters. It is possible to note the increase in density and improved form resolution of the Conflux part. The Conflux custom parameters improve part performance outcomes through improved density and consistent form quality.
Using the Synchrotron in this process allows Conflux engineers to verify the outcomes of custom parameter development as well as inspect for critical defects. The end result is improved performance, increased part quality and reduced development times.