A 3D-printed hydraulic manifold was designed under FIMECC MANU programme. The new design take full advantage of the benefits of 3D printing.
The result is a product that is 72% lighter than the original design – resulting to savings in space and material. The designed manifold has no unnecessary drillings and the geometry of the channels enables more efficient fluid flow. Adding material only where it is needed, makes 3D printing a more efficient way to produce hydraulic manifolds. Optimal design for 3D printing will provide more efficient, silent and lighter hydraulics.
The design constraints of conventional manufacturing methods do not apply to 3D printing. This offers significant opportunity to optimize fluid flow and performance of a hydraulic manifold. The design limitations of hydraulic manifolds are now caused by the hydraulic components instead of manufacturing methods. Especially the physical size and the requirements of the cavity machining for the components are the new design constraints.
Hydraulic manifolds manufactured with conventional methods suffer from several issues caused by the constraints of the manufacturing method. Most important of these issues are the excessive weight and unnecessary drillings which need to be plugged afterwards. Also all the drillings are made perpendicular to each other resulting in undesirable geometries for efficient fluid flow inside the manifold.
Using 3D printing as a manufacturing method enables the manifold to be free of these unnecessary drillings and the geometry of the channels or pipes can be optimized instead of building them perpendicular to each other. Last but not least using 3D printing enables manufacturing of even 72 % lighter manifolds. All these improvements lead to more efficient and functional hydraulic systems.
3D printing, also called additive manufacturing or AM technology, enables the production of objects of nearly any shape without the limitations associated with traditional manufacturing methods. Combined with advanced design and optimization techniques, the potential cost-savings of AM extends to the design phase where simulation can reduce the number of necessary design iterations. This technology also enables small, one-off production runs, which remove the additional costs typically associated with customization.
3D printing enables the manufacturing of high-performance, cost-effective and light-weight hydraulic manifolds. Optimal design results in savings in weight, space, materials and manufacturing costs. In addition the new design enables better operational capacity reducing power loss and hydraulics noise in machines.
Mikko Hovilehto, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Metso Minerals, Lappeenranta University of Technology