Businesses are currently examining innovation in their supply chain. One of the major impacting factors within their supply chain is lead time.
Certain product types have a longer lead time than others and this can apply globally. Wedge wire filter media has a lead time of 6-8 weeks.
Wedge wire is traditionally formed from parallel, wedge profile bars with perpendicular support bars and can be used in screens, baskets and cylinders. Wedge wire filters remove particulates from fluids to prevent contamination or damage to downstream industrial processes. Wedge wire filter media are considered to be highly dependable filtration media that deliver precision filtering, strength and can withstand high operational pressures. They are also not susceptible to clogging and so are easy to maintain. As a result they are widely employed across a range of industries including water management, hydroelectric, food & beverage and manufacturing.
Figure 1: Conventional wedge wire cylinder filter, where wedge wire is a single wire (left). Metal AM wedge wire cylinder, produced as a single part (right)
Additive Manufacture (AM) technology, where components are built layer by layer is well known for prototyping, multi-part to single parts and increasing part functionality to add value, however AM can also deliver value through decreased lead time and decreased tooling costs. Manufacture of wedge wire by AM would deliver added value by reducing tooling costs and decrease in lead time.
Layer by layer manufacture allows for design freedom that allows designs to be created that cannot be manufactured by other conventional processes. We have utilised metal powder bed fusion AM to deliver novel innovative wedge wire designs which deliver the required filtration level, within a short lead time without tooling. The wedge wire design shown in Fig 1, differs from the conventional (left) as the support structure is at 45° rather than 90° as in the conventional. The AM wedge filter is designed for flow from IN, inside the cylinder to OUT, outside the filter. This arrangement can easily be reversed to suit an OUT to IN fluid flow. The two designs can then be built in numbers to suit demand without the need to create two sets of tooling. Further value is added by including fixings on the ends of the wedge wire portion. A series of filters with different slot sizes (filtration level) can be manufactured simultaneously in low volume production run (Fig 2).
(Figure 2: AM Wedge wire cylinder filters: 3 slot sizes)
Altering the direction of the wedge to support arises from Design for AM (DfAM) and delivers the opportunity to create wedge wire in novel shapes that cannot be achieved conventionally. We designed a series of wedge wire filters that would be placed at the end of an inlet to a hydroelectric system in a river bed. The challenges here are to ensure that debris and other contaminants do not enter the electricity generating mechanism and that the wedge wire filter media would promote self cleaning. AM design freedoms allowed us to create wedge wire media in conical and rounded conical shapes to aid self cleaning of the filter in the river bed. (Fig. 3). These wedge wire media AM designs were designed for metal AM, to suit the customer functional requirements and were built without tooling and were deliverable in one week. Metal AM is a powerful tool in the supply chain and provides innovation opportunities across many components.
(Figure 3: AM Conical shaped Wedge wire cylinder filters)