An integral component in heat pipes (HPs) and vapor chambers (VCs) is a porous wicking structure. Traditional methods for manufacturing wicking structures within HPs and VCs involve secondary manufacturing processes and are generally limited to simple geometries. This work aims to leverage the unprecedented level of design freedom of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) additive manufacturing (AM) to produce integrated wicking structures for HPs and VCs.
Copper wicking structures are fabricated through LPBF via partial sintering and via the formation of square, hexagonal and rectangular arrangements of micro-pins and micro-grooves, produced in multiple build directions. Wicks are characterized by conducting capillary performance analysis through the measurement of porosity, permeability and capillary rate-of-rise.
Copper wicking structures were successfully fabricated with capillary performance, K/reff, ranging from 0.186–1.74 µm. The rectangular-arrangement micro-pin wick presented the highest performance.
This work represents the first published report on LPBF AM of copper wicking structures for HPs/VCs applications and represents foundational knowledge for fabricating complete assemblies of copper VCs and HPs through LPBF AM.
Funding: This work was supported by SET Group, LLC though prime contract number 80NSSC18C0125 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under FY 2017 SBIR topic S3.03. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the government.
Mezghani, A., Nassar, A.R., Dickman, C.J., Valdes, E. and Alvarado, R. (2021), "Laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing of copper wicking structures: fabrication and capillary characterization", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 1181-1188. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-01-2021-0016
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