Additive manufacturing of hydraulic application components, like hydraulic manifold block, End fittings, accessories, is a powerful alternative to traditional manufacturing methods such as machining and casting. Additive Manufacturing allows a much higher level of design freedom, part integration, to reduce weight and improve the media flow paths with varied geometry shape and size (shape) of internal channels for ideal flow by maintaining the structural integrity.

Hydraulic manifold blocks are crucial elements of hydraulic systems and usually have a conventional compact, square design with multiple internal channels in straight lines that enable them to control the fluid distribution of large machines or systems in automotive or industrial safety equipment.

Conventional manufacturing of Hydraulic manifold block

The traditional manufacturing of hydraulic manifold blocks causes very high machining costs with milling and drilling operations to create the internal fluid channels that are in straight lines or angular lines leading to high costs and, long lead time. (Which causes high machining costs.)

The challenges and disadvantages of traditional Hydraulic manifolds

  • Abrupt angled junctions between flow paths can cause flow stagnation with dead legs and an increase in hold-up volume resulting in loss of flow efficiency.
  • The edges create stresses which are not loosened and cannot be removed while in operation.
  • Dirt reservoirs are formed at areas with no fluid flow causing damage to failure to the whole system.
  • The waiting period for a new hydraulic manifold block in case of failure leads to machine downtime losing a high rate of MHR.

Benefits of AM for the design and manufacture of hydraulic manifolds

The geometries in Additive Manufacturing have been redesigned to receive an optimum flow path. The AM process with Intech DfAM design architecture for hydraulic manifolds is considerably lighter and modified to meet the requirements.

  • Optimized flow paths for a more efficient component functionality.
  • Ability to fully utilize computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to aid the design process.
  • Eliminate tooling for low mass production.
  • The minimal requirement for removable support structures.
  • Significant weight reduction is achievable.
  • No requirement for manifold block extraction passages.

With full design freedom a manifold can be designed to pack into a significantly smaller volume​ leading to downsizing of the manifolds

Advantages for Printing in AM:

  • Reduction in Build time
  • Reduction in Material consumption
  • Reduced post processing & support removal
  • Increased Efficiency
  • No leakage in operation

Intech Additive reduced the weight of the hydraulic manifold block from 3.61 to 0.51kg down by 3.10kg

Results Summary

  • Mass reduction of up to 75%
  • Single piece construction, fewer opportunities for defects
  • Rapid design and development iterations
  • Compatibility with the existing design
  • Improved flow efficiency
  • Decrease in ΔP -Delta P across the flow paths
Existing CAD data Optimized CAD data
Part mass: 3.61 Kg Part mass: 0.54 Kg
Part Volume: 3,01,000 cm3 Part Volume: 45,000 cm3
Equivalent stress: 124 MPa Equivalent stress: 360 MPa
Total displacement: 0.0024 mm Total displacement: 0.0026 mm

Improved flow efficiency

The horizontal holes are no longer needed, the fluid can now flow around the corner and is not disturbed by corners and edges.

  • Homogeneous wall thickness
  • Design flexibility
  • No Leakage risks
  • No stress risks
  • Smooth channels for optimal flow
  • Light weight
  • Improves energy efficiency and reliability

The final hydraulic manifold block redesigned in additive manufacturing.

Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)

With a more complex hydraulic manifold block, it is possible to adjust the fluid channel lengths to each other. AM provides a flexible design option for shorter channel flow paths to avoid losses against the longer fluid channel and less risk of leakage. Shorter channels and no sharp corners mean higher energy efficiency.

Advantages of Design for AM

  • The wall thicknesses can be adjusted as required.
  • Rapid design repetitions and no tooling costs.

Optimize the flow path with AM

  • AM allows users more time to change the design decision.
  • Total flexibility and adjust the design at any time.
About the Author

Gregg Profozich

Gregg Profozich is a manufacturing, operations and technology executive who believes that manufacturing is the key creator of wealth in the economy and that a strong manufacturing sector is critical to our nation’s prosperity and security now, and for future generations. Across his 20-year plus career in manufacturing, operations and technology consulting, Mr. Profozich helped manufacturing companies from the Fortune 500 to the small, independents significantly improve their productivity and competitiveness.