Rapid prototyping methods for the manufacture of fuel cells
1 AGH University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, Al. A. Mick iewicza 30, 30-059 Kraków, Poland
2 AGH University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Energy and Fuels, Al. A. Mick iewicza 30, 30-059 Kraków, Poland
a Corresponding author: email@example.com
The term rapid prototyping (RP) is widely used to describe technologies which create physical prototypes directly from digital data. The first methods for rapid prototyping became available in the late 1980s and were used to produce models and prototype parts. Three-dimensional (3D) rapid prototyping methods are widely employed in various areas of manufacturing, research, and education. Typical applications include engineering, architecture, and medicine. The present level of technical and commercial demand requires the development of faster and cheaper methodologies for the design and execution of structures. Various techniques based on CAD platforms and rapid prototyping are available. Parts can be produced in a variety of materials: polymers, metal, paper, ceramics, and composites.
The RP method also enables the production of prototypes useful for analysing the characteristics of a complex system (e.g. interference between dynamic parts, geometric evaluation, quality, and reliability). RP technologies can produce very complex parts which are impossible or difficult to produce by traditional methods.
This paper presents typical applications of rapid prototyping technology for the manufacture of mechanical parts for fuel cells, such as housing parts or bipolar plates which supply reactants (hydrogen to anodes and oxygen to cathodes), conduct electrons from one cell to the next, remove waste heat from cells, and provide mechanical support for cells in a stack. Conventional graphite or composite materials can be replaced by lighter metallic materials characterised by vastly superior manufacturability and cost effectiveness, greater mechanical strength, increased durability and resistance to shock and vibration, and zero permeability.
The potential for the application of this method for the manufacture of metallic bipolar plates (BPP) for use in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) is presented and discussed. Special attention is paid to the fabrication of light elements for the construction of PEMFC stacks designed for mobile applications such as aviation technology and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
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