Innovative High-Speed Metal Forming of Microchannel Fuel Cells
To meet an annual part requirement of over one million components, the FormBalancer 25 high-speed metal forming machine from FluidForming simultaneously produces two plates in an operating cycle of 20 seconds with unprecedented accuracy, repeatability, speed, and forming capabilities.
Posted: June 5, 2019
With a hydraulic diameter below 1 mm, a microchannel is used in fluid control and heat transfer to provide inherently low energy consumption heat transfer storage in a variety of settings, including heating and cooling, consumer appliances, fuel cells, and automotive and aerospace applications. The customized FormBalancer 25 (FB25) high-speed metal forming machine from FluidForming Americas, LLC (Hartsville, TN) can produce microchannel fuel cells at high production volumes. “There’s no other process on the market that can form fuel cells like this. We’re enabling fuel cell technology to become commercialized and more affordable,” said Paul Benny, the president and chief executive officer of FluidForming Americas. “The potential for this technology to change entire industries is profound.” The FB25 can accommodate exacting tolerances and utilizes groundbreaking hydroforming technology that boasts high forming pressures of 2,500 bar/36,000 psi – well over industry standards. It features automatic roll feed with automatic die trimming and accommodates tight radii requirements of 0.2 mm and forming depths of 0.8 mm.
Previously, the mass production of microchannel fuel cells was extremely challenging with legacy metal forming methods, such as die-stamping or bladder-based hydroforming, which are costly, unpredictable, prone to warping, and lack the pressures and repeatability of FluidFormed components. “This machine will simultaneously produce two plates with an operating cycle of 20 seconds, meeting an annual part requirement of over one million components. With unprecedented accuracy, repeatability, speed, and forming capabilities, this technology allows for the first-ever mass production of microchannel plates,” added Jurgen Pannock, the chief technology officer of FluidForming. “This is the only Six Sigma metal forming process available and the implications of it on the future of manufacturing are astounding. Ideas that were once deemed too costly, or impossible – like mass producing microchannels – are now a reality.” Microchannel production is scheduled to take place in Asia and will supply both Asian and U.S. markets.
FluidForming Americas, LLC, 295 Trousdale Way, Hartsville, TN 37074-2073, 800-497-3545, www.ffamericas.com.
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