Pictured are Bianca Haberl (left) and Amy Elliott, both of ORNL. Haberl is a neutron scattering scientist, while Elliott is a member of the R&D team for manufacturing systems research. Photo Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Specialist of binder jetting technology ExOne has licensed a patent-pending method of 3D printing a ceramic-metal material from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Both companies had previously announced their collaboration to develop cutting-edge technology for new binder systems with a focus on optimizing chemistry and process parameters for ExOne’s sand and metal systems.

Researchers at ORNL developed the method of 3D printing on the ExOne M-Flex®. This system is one of the first 3D printers of the manufacturer that integrates binder jetting technology. The system can 3D print parts in metals, such as stainless steel, bronze or tungsten, as well as sand, ceramics and composites.

The goal is to 3D print in B4C, a neutron-absorbing material

The B4C integrates both strong and lightweight properties as well as energy-absorbing characteristics. Such characteristics are leveraged in neutron scattering instruments which enable researchers to easily collect data which is thereafter turned into an image.

It delivers results that X-Rays can’t. Neutrons can detect light elements, like hydrogen or water, but they also penetrate through heavy elements like lead, which enables analysis of complex processes in-situ,” explained Dan Brunermer, Technical Fellow at ExOne.

The commercialization of this material would bring significant advantages to manufacturers of neutron scattering collimators and shielding equipment who will be able to produce in any shape at less risk thanks to the materials’ energy-deflection capabilities.

Other advantages include the possibility to produce metal parts in a lighter material than bronze.

This research and the resulting license agreements demonstrate the value that the DOE Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL delivers to the manufacturing and science community at large,” Brunermer said.

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