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Philips redesigns burner for additive manufacturing

The production and maintenance of quartz burners for the manufacture of lights were causing some trouble. Philips decided to redesign these burners in cooperation with Sirris, who provided its expertise in additive manufacturing.

Philips is a well-known brand that originated in the Netherlands. It produces consumer electronics and lighting as well as other products. Burners are used for the manufacture of quartz glass for lights. The burners heat the quartz. Four burners are set up at each machine position to heat the quartz from various positions. When the quartz is sufficiently heated, it is squeezed tight by means of squeeze blocks to make sure it becomes gas-tight.

Initially, the old burners were made from a copper alloy - to ensure proper cooling and because it allowed for brazing. The holes drilled for the cooling channel had to be closed. This lead to problems: after all, it is not easy to close drilled holes and make these watertight by brazing. When the first drill hole was soldered and the second one would be drilled, the first hole would start leaking again due to the heat required to solder the second one properly. When heating quartz, high quantities of quartz fumes are released which are deposited on the colder surfaces of the cooled burners. The burners had to be cleaned by sandblasting, which, in turn, also caused leaks.

Redesign with alternative material

Philips was searching for a solution and was considering a redesign of its quartz burners based on an additive manufacturing production process. The Philips designers, therefore, attended the 'Design for additive manufacturing' master class organised by Sirris' AM experts. Only the existing burner and not the entire burner set-up was modified when redesigning the process.

The redesign process placed the cooling channel in the most optimal position and Philips used Inconel alloys as an alternative material. It absorbs fewer quartz vapours. The locations where O-rings were to be installed required post-processing to ensure that the burners would not leak there. Next, tests were carried out and temperatures measured.

The new burners have been in operation for two years and do not require replacing yet. Cleaning requires no more than blowing them clean using compressed air. This was definitely a successful redesign project!