Researchers of the Johannes Kepler University in Linz published a manual for tooling engineers to simulate cooling channels with the open-source software OpenFoam®.
Additive manufacturing, which is often referred to as 3-D printing, enables the creation of complex internal structures. A successful application of this capability is tools with optimised internal cooling channels. Such near-contour cooling geometries can efficiently temper tools to improve quality, durability and productivity. However, the design of such channels requires reliable simulation, which is not sufficiently supported by many commercial simulation programs.
In the course of the CORNET project ‘AM 4 Industry’ led by ecoplus Plastics and Mechatronics Clusters in Lower Austria, Thomas Mitterlehner, Eva Kobler and Georg Steinbichler from the Institute for Polymer Injection Moulding and Process Automation at the Johannes Kepler University examined the simulation of cooling channels by using the Open Source Software OpenFoam® (Open Source Field Operation and Manipulation). The freely available software is mainly used for the solution of flow problems (CFD) and provides a useful solver in its basic version. Besides, the software (written in C++) is open for other solvers and own software code. The research team used this software in combination with the solver ‘chtMultiRegion’ to study the heat exchange between a solid and fluid and to develop an application-oriented example for simulating additively manufactured cooling channels.
The team published their experiences in an application-oriented handbook to provide practitioners in development, simulation engineers, and students with the foundation of OpenFoam® and to improve simulations. A summary of the project results, as well as the handbook, can be downloaded free of charge from the research network website: www.am4industry.com.
The project was financially supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG in the course of a CORNET (COllective Research NETworking).
ecoplus is a committed member of the technology platform AM-Austria: www.am-austria.com.