Machines

HiETA celebrates growth with new website, video and brochure

2018 is fast becoming a landmark year for HiETA. Our heat exchangers are now typically five times smaller and our turbo machinery can run up to 200°C hotter than standard benchmarks. Revenues are expected to triple versus last year, staff levels are now above 50, and we’ve taken delivery of three out of four state of the art multi-laser Ren AM500Q additive manufacturing (AM) machines from Renishaw.

Today, to celebrate this and propel us into the second half of the year, we are launching a new website, company video and brochure. Please do take a look at these, and we look forward to working with you through the remainder of 2018 and beyond.

Our new website: www.hieta.biz

We also invite you to read on. We’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on the journey that HiETA has enjoyed since it was founded in 2011. We take a look at where the business is now and look ahead to where we’re going next.

Our journey

HiETA Technologies is a product development and production company specialised in the use of Additive Manufacturing (metal 3-D printing). Our specific expertise is in thermal management and light-weighting. The company was founded by Mike Adams, a serial entrepreneur with experience in the implementation of automated systems and change management, and Drummond Hislop, a development economist with an engineering background and a long-standing interest in carbon-reducing, thermally efficient engine systems.

Starting with a clean sheet of paper has allowed us to challenge conventional wisdom in both design and manufacturing. The idea for the endeavour came from Drummond Hislop when in the late 1990s he was working on a new generation of Stirling engine and was looking for ways of improving the performance of the compact heat exchangers on which the Stirling engine depended. He realised that the then-emerging technology of additive manufacturing would allow new, more efficient architectures for compact heat exchanger cores, that previously had been very difficult or even impossible to make. With great foresight, he filed a number of patents that subsequently went on to form the basis of the early research and development work undertaken by HiETA.

The majority of HiETA projects are confidential to particular customers. One project, however, operated in the public domain and led on to other demonstrable successes. The project is MiTRE (Micro Turbine Range Extender), led by Delta Motorsport Ltd. The culmination of this project was the launch of the MiTRE engine at the Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) exhibition in 2016. The MiTRE engine featured HiETA’s recuperating heat exchanger and its injector. The recuperator was 6% more effective (equivalent to being about 20% smaller) than the competition. The injector’s internal features pre-heated the fuel, allowing reduced emissions. Additive manufacturing enabled low volume production with unusually short lead times, well-suited to a fast-moving development project. A more powerful version of the MiTRE engine, again with a HiETA recuperator and injector, powers the Ariel Motor HiPERCAR, unveiled at the 2017 LCV exhibition.

Coverage of these events didn’t go unnoticed, and HiETA was approach by Mitsubishi Turbocharger and Engine Europe (MTEE) to develop a novel recuperator for the Range+ micro-turbine range extender. Four months after the first meeting the component was delivered, and it was the key enabler for MTEE to launch Range+ at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017. Our challenge now, which we embrace, is to continue working with Mitsubishi and keep up the development so that HiETA units find their way into high-volume production.

HiETA today

2018 saw HiETA’s transition from its early focus on research and development on how to apply the advantages of additive manufacturing to heat exchange,  to product development and finally to pioneering their commercial production. HiETA is now highly regarded as a world-class product development company and boasts an enviable list of blue-chip customers. It’s also known as being a fantastically innovative place to work and has attracted over 50 top-flight staff from a range of backgrounds.

The company’s activities almost all lead to carbon reduction, and we expect that climate change mitigation can only increase the demand for our products and services. While the performance of our products continues to improve at a very high rate, their costs are falling rapidly, with equally rapid improvements in all elements of the supply chain. So, besides our initial markets of motorsport, aerospace and defence, our products and services are fast becoming very attractive to markets such as energy and automotive.

HiETA is unique in offering true end-to-end services in additive manufacturing and has now proved that it can take clean-sheet ideas through engineering development and into series production. This ability is underpinned by its development of a range of proprietary AM-only heat transfer surfaces, that allow the company to produce heat exchangers around five times smaller and lighter than the competition. As important, additive manufacturing allows these heat exchangers to be conformably packaged and integrated with other components, leading to further improvements in performance, cost, size and weight; multi-functionality allows heat exchangers to carry loads. HiETA has also applied its expertise to turbo machinery components: for example its cooled micro-turbine wheels can operate at temperatures 200°C higher than previously possible. In production, HiETA’s state-of-the-art facilities, which include the latest multi-laser Renishaw Ren AM500Q machines, represent the future of manufacturing.

One of three state-of-the-art multi-laser Renishaw RenAM500Q machines installed at the HiETA Technology Centre at the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

HiETA’s impact

HiETA Technologies’ impact is apparent on two levels. Firstly, HiETA’s products are a stunning realisation of clean-sheet design. Unencumbered by legacy products or a culture of ‘this is how we do things around here’, HiETA’s products, besides setting new performance standards, are also beautiful. In particular, its annular heat exchangers are becoming synonymous with AM and have featured on the covers of numerous publications. HiETA is, therefore, able to communicate to non-specialist engineers the tremendous realities of products that are truly designed for Additive Manufacturing. Secondly, HiETA has achieved and will continue to achieve what was previously said to be impossible. Firstly, we proved that a functional heat exchanger could be made using laser powder-bed fusion AM, secondly, we showed that AM heat exchangers could comfortably out-perform those made conventionally, and, thirdly, the company is showing that this can be done reliably and economically in a production environment. To achieve this HiETA has had to lead the way in establishing a full AM-specific value chain. This has entailed generating a proprietary design handbook, developing product-specific AM process parameters and data handling techniques, and developing new and automated post-processing and inspection techniques, particularly for powder removal.

 

HiETA-designed recuperator for a micro gas turbine made with a Renishaw RenAM500Q before export to mainland Europe.

Looking ahead

HiETA Technologies is an ambitious company and we expect to have a tremendous impact across a range of sectors.

On the manufacturing side, our capacity is expanding rapidly, with 2018 already seeing the installation of three of the latest generation of multi-laser Renishaw RenAM 500Q machines.  This doubles the productive capacity of our existing facility whilst also improving part quality. HIETA is one of the first companies, outside Renishaw itself, to use the multi-laser Ren AM500Q machine, that results in build speeds up to six times faster than the earliest generations of AM machines, for large complex parts such water-cooled charge air coolers.  HiETA is now working with customers to ensure that these benefits are passed on to them. Looking ahead, we are drawing up plans to substantially expand our manufacturing capacity at a new, second site, so that we’re ready to supply at an increased scale, such as that required by customers such as Mitsubishi.

HiETA is also continuing to progress the state of the art in manufacturing technologies, pioneering the application of artificial intelligence not just in specific areas such as machine parameter development or strategies for powder removal, but across the whole value chain. The fruits of these efforts will be cost reductions and improvements in process quality and performance that enable HiETA to address high volume, low margin markets such as the automotive sector.

On the product side, HiETA will take to market new systems for energy recovery and micro-power generation with game-changing levels of efficiency. Specifically, HiETA’s technologies will increase the efficiency of micro gas turbines in the 10-30 kWe range from about 25% to about 40%. They will find high volume applications in stationary power and automotive range extenders, tackling significant societal issues such as access to energy and reduction of emissions. To achieve this, HiETA’s focus of attention will shift from pioneering the use of AM, which will become commonplace, towards the tremendous new products that it can enable. In fact, this is already beginning to taken place, and it points the way towards HiETA’s substantial and growing future impact.

HiETA’s vision is to be a world-leading product design and manufacturing company, specialising in heat management and complex light weight structures. HiETA designs mid-high volume products with a team, culture and environment that reflects the technology: new, exciting, creative & dynamic.

In five years’ time we expect to be the leading supplier of thermal management solutions enabled by additive manufacturing in all of our target markets, and operating a commercial business at a substantial scale. Some say that this is not possible; but those same people said that it was not possible to make a heat exchanger using additive manufacturing, let alone one five times smaller than previously possible. We have demonstrated that it is possible, and we are now supplying goods and services to the same companies that we were originally benchmarked against. We’re now confidently gearing up to show the world that these products can be delivered at scale.