Exploiting the potential of additive manufacturing in filtration media designs

Manufacturers have been making filters for many years, but with the onset of a new Industrial Age, additive manufacturing is gaining traction as an alternative method of production.

Filtration media is a general term that refers to anything placed in a filter that changes the quality of water flowing through it. It covers all types of filters; for example, cones, baskets, screens, metal and paper, and can be used in diverse industries from food and beverage to power generation; utilities and waste to pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers have been making filters for many years, but with the onset of a new Industrial Age, additive manufacturing is gaining traction as an alternative method of production.

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Traditionally, metal filters have been manufactured from perforated plate to form filter support that can withstand operational pressures, and then one or more layers of woven wire mesh are added to create the filter portion at the level of filtration required for the operation. But with the onset of Industry 4.0, Additive Manufacturing (AM), has started to gain momentum as a viable alternative to subtractive manufacturing processes.


Additive Manufacturing, also known as rapid prototyping or 3D printing, follows a different process to traditional manufacturing. It allows the user to create complex, robust, fully 3-dimensional structures from sintered powder, liquid, paper or sheet material. This is achieved through a process that builds the structure layer-by-layer; a laser fuses these layers in cross-sectional geometries that are determined through the use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to create the end product. In basic terms, the part is constructed by adding material layer by layer. This permits designs that are different from conventional, subtractive manufacturing, where the material is removed to make the part. In the production of filters using AM, each filter is designed to suit its application or end-use. So, for example, a wedge wire screen can be created for use where pressures may be high, due to its composite strength. Alternatively, a basket design may be utilised for the collection of the particles. Additionally, there can be advantages in where the filter sits; for example, positioning to allow ease of removal for cleaning, or to provide maximum area for filtration.


AM technology provides design freedom, allowing the manufacture of complex parts that could not be made (in some cases) by conventional processes. It offers the capability to design new filter media that has integrated support and filter portions with defined aperture size and strand diameter. Also, AM filters can provide a reduced pressure drop (resistance), so less pumping energy is required, or it may have a larger open area, more space for the fluid (gas or liquid) to get through while having the correct filtration level (the size of the aperture – e.g. 50m so particles bigger than this will be stopped or collected by the filter). This can potentially decreasing the customer’s pumping energy requirements and, therefore, can reduce overall energy costs – and their associated carbon footprint. There is another advantage too. Some filtration media such as wedge wire filters can be made faster than their traditional counterparts, so offer a decreased lead time; all of which means a faster turnaround and better customer service.


Croft creates and tests novel AM filter designs. These have been proven to have added value through decreased energy requirements during operation or increased open area values. Croft supply industrial AM components to customers across the globe, helping them fully utilise this technology to suit their own requirements and solve unique problems. Supported by sister company, Croft Filters Ltd, they are committed to exploring new options, advancing the technology and educating decision-makers in markets that could benefit from additive technology.


According to a survey by PwC, over two-thirds of the industrial manufacturers surveyed are already using 3D printing in some capacity. 28.9% were using the technology solely for experimentation and 24.6% used 3D printing for rapid prototyping; a staple of the AM industry for most of its history. With the global market for 3D printers and services expected to grow beyond $22.4 billion in 2020, now is the time to explore the benefits of AM for your manufacturing business. Why not join Croft Filters at the World Filtration Congress in California this April, and attend their short course on AM? Led by Croft Director Neil Burns, this course is open to all delegates and will guide you through the processes, advantages and the benefits AM can bring to your business.