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Assembling and automating a Heat Exchanger model?

Question asked by Jon Kerr on Apr 8, 2013

Hi there,


First time using the forum so I hope this is the correct place to ask questions.

I was hoping some of the experienced user on here could give me some advice on how they might go about modelling this particular part:



The above image is a model I had previosuly built by drawing one tube and assembling them together.


I am trying to come up with a parametric model powered by an excel spreadsheet. Hopefully in my final model it will be possible to alter the design by changing the spreadsheet, which is the result of a lot of multiobjective optimisation.



My first stumbling block is that depending on the results of the optimisation, the number of tubes in the Heat Exchanger could change. How would you go about modelling this so I can use macros and excel to change the number of tubes in the design?


Currently I've been looking at using a series of linear pattern to create a sketch containing slightly seperated hexagons over a large area (see the star shaped image below), then drawing a circle of the required size for the heat exchanger over the web of hexagons and extruding this to make the honeycomb (second image below). That way I could have my excel sheet specify the size of the hexagons, the total diameter of the HE (and hence the circle) will always be the same, and then the number of hexagons inside will change.




I'm now struggling to figure out how I would loft these hexagons onto circles in the same pattern in order to make my tubes. Firstly, I cant figure out how to get circles in the same pattern as the hexagons without going outside the boundaries of the total HE (large circular area). Secondly, Solidworks wont allow you to loft multiple profiles together at a time into multiple lofts, which causes me issues when I'm trying to "automate" the building of the model with varied numbers of hexagons and tubes.


Any ideas on how I could do this?

Any help would be very much appreciated,