As design engineers create more complex and innovative products, high precision welding solutions need to follow suit to meet the challenges to weld exotic and dissimilar materials, with complex weld joint geometry, all on time and within budget. After all, if you can’t join the pieces, you have no end product.
One market that relies heavily on advanced welding capabilities is the HVAC industry. As OEMs pursue cleaner energy and higher heating/cooling efficiencies, HVAC technology is becoming more and more intricate, requiring high-quality precision welds in their fabrication.
ThermoLift, an emerging leader in clean energy HVAC systems, recognized the importance of high precision welding when creating an innovative new air-source heat pump. Cutting down carbon dioxide emissions and energy costs by as much as half compared to typical HVAC systems, ThermoLift’s patented Thermal Compression Climate Control (TC3) unit required a significant level of precision welding for proper fabrication to bring it to market.
Welding and production challenges for the TC3 included:
- A significant number of precision welds in a small space
- Welding at difficult angles
- Subpar parts and extensive re-machining
- Materials issues
- Delayed timelines
By partnering with EB Industries, an industry-leading high precision welding services provider, ThermoLift overcame these challenges to combine advanced engineering and high precision welding in ways that brought the TC3 to successful commercialization.
ThermoLift’s TC3 provides a high-efficiency, refrigerant-free HVAC, hot water, and refrigeration system – all in one device. With concurrent heating and cooling from a single thermal energy source, this specialty air-source heat pump utilizes patented Hofbauer Cycle technology. Rather than relying solely on electricity, the TC3 transfers heat from outside to the inside of a building in winter and vice versa in summer. Since electricity is not the primary fuel source, the TC3 can capture and utilize ambient heat, delivering up to three times more heat energy than the electrical energy it consumes.
With its ability to utilize the natural heat in the atmosphere, the TC3 can achieve efficiencies of more than 100 percent. It can also meet very specific refrigeration requirements. Without the need for a secondary unit, the TC3 can maintain high performance and energy efficiency in large commercial applications at extremely cold temperatures — as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius.
Key benefits of the TC3 include:
- Reduced annual energy consumption for heating, cooling, and water heating
- Significant operational-costs savings
- Cutting carbon dioxide emissions and energy costs by as much as half across residential and commercial applications
- No need for harmful refrigerants
To achieve these benefits, the TC3 involved a much more complex design than typical HVAC systems. The design of the TC3 utilized 120 tubes, each about the thickness of a pen or pencil, which needed to be welded into place. Since the TC3’s design needed to withstand everything from subzero temperatures to extreme heat, ThermoLift designers would need to design the overall structure and select materials with close attention to detail.
EB Industries Provided the Answers for a Difficult Welding Challenge
The team at ThermoLift knew that they needed a partner skilled in high precision welding and other value-added production capabilities. EB Industries, known for its high precision laser welding and electron beam welding solutions, was ideal for the job partly due to its prior success in precision work on products designed for the energy market.
In this case, laser welding was the better option since it was quicker and more efficient. After choosing the right type of welding, EB Industries could now provide the hundreds of small, intricate welds at various unique angles necessary to produce the TC3.
EB engineers also looked at the welded materials, analyzing how they mated and cooled together. If this could be optimized, the welds would not fail or crack in the future, leading to even more significant long-term durability of the TC3.
EB Industries deployed its advanced testing equipment on the project, allowing engineers to test and subsequently fix parts without needing outside assistance. EB Industries’ AWS QC1-certified inspectors performed dye penetrant inspections and x-ray inspections of the parts. Inspectors utilized the Keyence VHX-900F Microscope for enhanced detail and accuracy. The level of detail that can be seen and measured with this scope allowed the smallest defects to be detected and fixed. Combine that with EB Industries’ ability to fabricate in-house assemblies, and its engineers were able to drastically improve production times for a much quicker and efficient prototyping process.
Bringing the TC3 to Market
Through high precision welding, EB Industries helped ThermoLift create the air-source heat pump that it had always envisioned in its earliest design stages. This allowed ThermoLift to move past the prototyping stage and fully prepare the TC3 for commercial and industrial markets, beginning to roll them out in 2021.
In the end, EB Thermolift could not have brought its product to market without partnering with EB Industries. The collaborative approach brought many intelligent people together, with Thermolift focusing on product functionality, and EB Industries focusing on delivering an innovative welding solution that is feasible and delivered on time to get the product to market.