Diesel Fuel Injector Adapter
Sandia National Labs
California, United States
17-4 PH Stainless Steel
Aerospace and Defense
Sandia National Labs is a science lab funded through the Department of Energy. Among a wide range of other projects, they're chartered with contributing to a body of research to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines. To support this mission, the team produces physical simulations of different diesel fuel flow scenarios. As the team at Sandia pushes the boundaries of design, they run up against physical manufacturing constraints. In order to produce the unique internal geometries that result in optimal flow, they rely on third parties for a combination of laser sintering and CNC machining. While the resulting part is functional, it can take weeks or months to get the final part. And that part may cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The Markforged platform helps Sandia produce the complex geometry they need to develop next-generation engines. It also helps Sandia avoid expensive and time-consuming third-party vendors. The team has drastically simplified their workflow: design, print, then post-process with an internal CNC. While Sandia had previously looked into laser sintering printers, Markforged was the first solution that could print metal in-house while conforming to their Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) requirements. This new capacity means lower lead times and more high-quality iterations — a huge benefit for experiments that affect the many verticals that depend on internal combustion engines.
Sandia printed this diesel fuel injector adapter in 17-4 PH Stainless Steel to test parameters established by the Engine Combustion Network (ECN). ECN is a consortium of labs and industry leaders focused on research that improves the efficiency of internal combustion engines. The adapter holds a spray “D” nozzle configuration, which will help Sandia contribute to a body of ECN research data. The intricate internal geometry requires non-traditional techniques to achieve internal flow lines. What used to need specialized and expensive equipment is now fabricated on a Markforged printer. Once finished, critical surfaces and mating features are fine-tuned on a CNC mill. Sandia is now working on quantifying several immediate performance impacts in testing.
This workflow has shown enough promise that the team at Sandia is now investigating the feasibility of printing more high-impact components using other Markforged materials, like high-temperature valves and nozzles in 3D printed Inconel 625, along with other critical fixturing components for imagining.