The SWaP project aims at developing revolutionary components for the next generation of cooling systems, directly embedding sensors in a hydraulic circuit element by the combination of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies.
AM technologies, often referred to as “3D-printing”, are opening today new possibilities to manufacture objects with shapes that either were not possible before, or requested complex assemblies, and this independently of the number of objects required. Taking advantage from the concept of point by point or layer by layer fabrication, the project will study new AM processes capable of directly printing specific functionalities together with the object, to form 3D-printed smart components. This approach would offer the possibility of digitally designing and 3D-printing complex “systems”, rather than limiting to complex “objects”, without the need of human intervention neither assembly.
The SWaP proposal focuses in particular on smart hydraulic components, customised, reliable and relatively low cost, for future cooling systems. Leveraging on a preliminary joint activity of the two partners aiming at the AM fabrication of millimetre or sub-millimetre size devices for cooling system in ceramic composites, the project envisages a further step, implementing printed sensors embedded inside the fluidic device. This will pave the way to the creation of a new generation of smart fluidic elements, compatible with existing standard hydraulic circuits, capable of providing measurements of fundamental fluidic parameters in the far branches of a highly distributed circuit, with negligible addition of mass and volume and at an affordable cost. Furthermore, in the future new miniaturised instruments could be developed on the same production platform, possibly allowing for the direct measure in operation of quantities today only measurable in laboratory environments.
The prototype targeted by the consortium will be the first demonstrator of its kind worldwide, and the technological platform will have a large positive impact not only on the future cooling systems of High Energy Physics detectors, but also on the field of scientific research on heat and mass transfer at small scales, and on several industrial fields. In a longer time scale, we also expect a sensible impact on medical applications, in particular giving origin to a new generation of smart prosthetic appliances.