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Power Electronics Cooling Solution for the Automotive Sector Enabled Via Design for Additive Manufacturing

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The automotive industry is now increasingly considering additive manufacturing (AM) for end-use part production, particularly in fabricating thermal management solutions. Such devices can be miniaturized and improved by incorporating complex design features, such as capillary structures, channel arrays, and porous regions. For instance, AM can be utilized for generating tortuous, diamond-shaped channels along multiple axes within a volume – a challenging, if not infeasible, task for conventional manufacturing methods. Material selection for heat exchangers is also broadened via AM, as it can eliminate the need for separate metallurgical joining methods. Through a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Dana Incorporated and the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab (University of Waterloo, Canada), a laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) and design for AM (DfAM) approach was adopted to produce an IGBT cooler demonstrator. A set of architected lattice structures were produced and characterized via computed tomography to quantify the manufacturability, geometric fidelity, and risk of leakage. The structures were integrated into the IGBT cooler design and simulations were performed to tailor the performance and manufacturability of the prototype. The prototype performance was assessed and compared to the original part performance.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the steps required to tailor the density and mechanical performance of material systems via laser powder bed fusion
  • List which characterization techniques are appropriate to assess manufacturability and geometric fidelity of lattice architectures.
  • Describe the design for additive manufacturing concepts can be utilized for improving thermal management performance