A leading developer and supplier of advanced, interoperable tactical and enterprise communication systems approached Sherpa with an interesting challenge: reimagine their current power supply subsystem design to allow for higher power applications – within the constraints of the current envelope.

What made both possible on a tight schedule: redesigning the product for additive manufacturing with Carbon DLS technology.

Exploring beyond traditional manufacturing  

The existing air duct had been designed for manufacturing with sheet metal and featured vertically mounted impeller fans for cooling. While functional, those fans had limited cooling abilities. This became an issue when end users would look to rely on the power supply for the operation of server or network equipment under higher ambient temperatures.

To begin exploring new possibilities, our client’s team had developed a rough concept for a four-axial fan-based cooling system. Informed by flow simulation studies, they had redesigned the duct’s louvers to more accurately direct air where it needed to go. With these more complex louver shapes, the duct would be difficult to manufacture with traditional methods.

power supply air duct renderings


Redesign for efficiency and durability

Our experts at Sherpa redesigned the duct components for Carbon DLS printing technology and then prototyped them, for initial testing. In this process, our team was able to reduce the initial concept design’s cost by 50%.

From here, our client evolved their concept into a longer five-fan version. Our team identified the optimal production approach as a two-part print, fastened together without obstructing airflow. With the resolution of our Carbon M2 printer, we were able to create a V-shaped profile at the seam that minimized air leaks and precisely aligned the two halves.

For production, we selected the EPX 82 resin for its functional toughness and thermal stability. As part of the product assembly, it passed military standard testing MIL-STD-810H.


Greater performance and agility

The new air duct design allowed the power supply to perform under ambient temperatures 10 °C above the previous iteration.

Finally, making use of Carbon DLS printing technology accelerated the process from concept to functional prototype and brought the project to the production stage much faster than traditional manufacturing. It also gives us flexibility to quickly respond to design updates.

What that means for the end user: more power and better performance within a familiar form.

Tell us about your project, and we’ll help you take it to the next level.

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Portland, Oregon 97214