3D Printing - Wind Tunnel Testing Solutions Process
Wind–tunnel testing is an essential part of the design process in many businesses, it is used to verify and tune the aerodynamic properties of solid objects. Whether an object is static or mobile, wind tunnels provide an understanding into the effects of air as it moves over or around the test model. When compared with machining and model making, 3D printing with either Polyjet or FDM technology has been found to be faster, less expensive and more efficient.
If you have a product and you need to test its functionality when it moves or is exposed to air, Wind Tunnel Testing is the most adequate functional prototyping solution to be used.The strength of the materials allows the FDM parts to be tested at high wind speeds without the risk of failure. FDM 3D printing technology is the best fit for wind–tunnel testing when you have complex or sophisticated prototypes, changes to your designs are likely to occur during the prototyping phase and you have large or bulky products.
With little direct labor needed and around-the-clock operation, FDM produces models in a few days that would take a week or more to produce with machining or sheet–metal fabrication. Not to mention that this process will not only save you time and labor but it will also diminish your costs.
Benefits of PolyJet and FDM models for wind–tunnel testing include: time and cost savings, the option to embed inserts without having to drill, availability of lightweight materials and the ease of creating internal passages for smoke or ink dissipation.
Producing hollow models is easy with PolyJet technology. This makes the model lighter and reduces material consumption. Inserts, often stock parts, can reinforce the model if needed, contributing greatly to its dimensional stability. Generally, it’s best to use the largest–diameter rod or thickest plate possible while reaching close to the tip of the model. The transparent materials available with PolyJet 3D printing can be useful when evaluating the flow characteristics of internal structures. Combining these materials with the complex internal structures that additive manufacturing allows lets designers verify complex internal designs.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
Distinguished by its durable materials, FDM is well suited for constructing wind-tunnel models. Soluble supports allow for complex models with internal cavities to be designed without considering traditional manufacturability. Inserts, including stiffening rods, sensors and fastening devices, can be embedded during 3D printing. The robust thermoplastics used in the FDM process make it possible to assemble the parts to functional assemblies or bond multiple sections together to produce large models. Internal structures can be manipulated to conserve material while maintaining structural integrity.