3D Printed Turbocharger Components
As part of a VGT design project, shown in more detail here , a number of parts were designed in CAD and printed in ABS plastic on a 3D printer. Read below to find out how this process is undertaken, and how we can 3D print your designs. All you have to do is provide us with simple 2D drawings of what you would like, or a physical object to model.
3D printed parts, including shroud rings (right)
Cone technical drawing, showing material saving
Shroud plate and ring for 3D printing
From Sketches to 3D models
In September 2014 I was part of a newly formed team of final year Masters students that were embarking on their major final year project, we chose to redesign the nozzle of a variable geometry turbocharger. You can read more about that here,
During the project we produced our own nozzle designs, and these required manufacture so we could perform physical testing on a cold flow test rig. We had multiple designs, and in order to interchange them quickly during testing, a novel locking method was required. The initial components were held in with a compression ring which needed to be destroyed with a high-precision drill before changing the nozzle ring. The solution, which I originally sketched in pencil on a scrap of paper, was turned into the 3D model shown above in red and green. The red section is a shroud plate which allows vanes to slide through the slots shown, the green ring sits in a legde on the housing and secures it in place. In order to change the parts over you simply twist the red plate to align the teeth with the holes in the green ring.
As part of material selection, the part must undergo stress analysis which determines the parts limits under loading. In this case it both parts were deemed structurally sound with an appropriate safety factor when using ABS, a common 3D printing material. 3D printing has some big advantages: it’s highly accurate, repeatable and fast. Given that the temperature in cold flow tests is well below the materials operating temperature and melting point thermal analysis was not required. 3D printing help drastically cut down our project lead times and parts were with us in days of verifying the complete 3D model in the chosen CAD software.
For your projects I would undergo the same procedure; producing a 3D model, testing it for stress limits and temperature requirements, selecting the appropriate material and then finally printing the final part. In order to save you money and reduce production times, I will design to use the minimum amount of plastic for the structural requirements. This can be done by removing internal material in areas of low stress, you can see an example below:
In the gallery above is an image of the final 3D printed parts. In this case white plastic was used, since aethetics weren’t important, however 3D printing is available in a wide variety of colours.