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Is 3D Printing The Future Of The Air Conditioning Industry?

The process of manufacturing air conditioning units has certainly advanced over the past few decades. Not only have the parts become more exacting and refined, but efficient techniques now provide a substantial reduction in costs. In a world defined by technological innovations, it should be no surprise that three-dimensional printing may be the next technique to take the refrigeration industry by storm. What is the basic principle behind this type of printing and why can it be so valuable in the future for producers as well as clients?

3D Printing in the Air Conditioning Industry

Although the process itself can be quite technical in nature, it is still worthwhile to appreciate the basic concepts behind this type of novel printing. Most printers work by creating successive layers of a specific form that was previously defined through a software programme. Each time the printer makes a pass, another layer is created. Some use soft materials known as thermoplastics to “build” shapes from a ground-up technique. Others (such as those which manufacture industrial parts) melt layers of powdered metal using a laser (1). This is referred to as sintering. Once again, each layer is built atop a previous base until the form is completed. Due to the exacting nature of such computerised technology, highly precise shapes can be made. Three-dimensional printing is already being employed within sectors such as aerospace, aviation and even jewellery. It only makes sense that the air conditioning industry can benefit from such a process.

3D Printing Air Conditioning

From Form to Function

One of the most interesting advancements observed within air con design is the use of three-dimensional printers to create bespoke units. Recently, Haier unveiled an air conditioner fashioned with the help of this technology. Although the price tag was a staggering $6,395 dollars (£4,431 pounds), the fact that the entire casing was constructed from a durable plastic material hints at what we can expect in the not-so-distant future.

This unit was primarily intended for home and business use although naturally, the applications here are staggering. Of course, it should also be noted that 3D printers have dramatically dropped in price over the last few years. This will likewise enable the cost of manufacturing products to lessen as time goes on. So, what are the benefits of this method in reference to the air conditioning supply and repair sectors?

Made-to-Order Units Air Conditioning Units

An interesting advantage of any type of three-dimensional printing technique is that the only limits to its flexibility revolve around the dimensions of the printer. In other words, it is quite easy to create unique shapes and designs based upon the needs of the customer. This can provide incredible benefits in regards to larger projects or those which require very specific air conditioners

A second potential windfall is that this same technique could be used to manufacture the metallic parts within the air conditioning unit. So, replacing worn or damaged sections could be performed using in-house builds as opposed to shipping accessories from the supplier to the end user. This will once again save money while reducing the overall time associated with a repair. Such an advantage is even more relevant for parts which are no longer manufactured.

The Road Ahead

We should make it a point to remember that three-dimensional printing is still considered to be in its infancy. It is not likely that this method will overtake traditional manufacturing processes for the time being. It is nonetheless a fact that such options will have a notable impact within the world of air conditioning installation, repair and replacement. Please keep up to date with Aircentric news to learn more.

Sources:
1. http://www.3ders.org/3d-printing-basics.html
2. http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/haier-debuts-3d-printed-air-conditioner/




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