Russia’s RusAt – Addictive Technologies – part of Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL have launched an innovative 3D printer that can be used in all key high-tech industries. The machine was developed jointly by specialists of Rosatom and the St Petersburg Maritime Technical University’s (SPbGMTU’s) Institute of Laser & Welding Technologies (ILWT). It is equipped with two industrial six-axis robots and a positioner with a carrying capacity of up to 8 tonnes.

The installation is designed for the manufacture of products with a maximum diameter of 2.2 metres and a height of 1 metre and the absence of defects in the form of large pores, cracks and foreign inclusions. This equipment allows the manufacture of large-sized products with given strength characteristics with a high productivity of up to 2.4 kg/h in the case of the use of powder materials from nickel alloys, stainless and heat-resistant steels. Another advantage is the ability to make bimetallic and composite products from several brands of metal powders with different properties.

Its products are formed using direct metal deposition (DMD) system which uses lasers and powder to deposit layer after layer. The machine has the flexibility to manufacture composite products from different metal powders with different properties. It can be used in a various hi-tech industries including the nuclear, aviation, shipbuilding, and space industries. It has already manufactured a 1-metre-high fragment for the baffle of the internal device of a nuclear power reactor.

Olga Ospennikova, director of the Association for the Development of Additive Technologies, said: "Additive technologies are one of the drivers that are shaping a new generation of production systems. The creation of a new installation of this class is an important step in the development of Russian industry. This is a breakthrough technology that paves the way for the widespread use of additive technologies in the nuclear industry. In particular, it will make it possible to print large parts of nuclear reactors.” The use of the installation in metalworking industries in the nuclear industry will cut the cost of producing large-sized components, reduce the time taken to manufacture then and make it possible to develop new promising structures.

“The creation of such new powerful plants enables the full implementation of additive technologies in heavy engineering, making it possible to 3D print products weighing tonnes rather than kilograms,” said RusAT Director General Ilya Kavelashvili. “This will save a large amount of materials, increase production productivity and improve quality. Rosatom has a large-scale programme for introducing additive technologies, and the creation of this new installation is the starting point for the widespread use of 3D printing in Russian engineering.”

Gleb Turichin, Rector of SPbGMTU and ILWT director & chief designer said the new installation represents a Russian DMD-class technology that will make possible higher productivity and significantly larger product dimensions. “This joint development is the first installation where several ‘growing’ tools can work simultaneously, without interfering with each other or their temperature fields. Our joint experience with Rosatom proved that additive technologies can be successfully used in heavy engineering.”

Currently, Rosatom operates three centres of additive technologies in Moscow, Novouralsk and Nizhny Novgorod. It is developing 3D printing technologies and a regional network of additive production centres. By 2030, Rosatom aims to be one of the top three leading Russian companies in the field of additive technologies.

Rosatom’s TVEL is the specialised nuclear industry integrator company in the field of additive technologies. The company's activities focus on four key areas: the production of a 3D printer line and their components; the creation of materials and metal powders for 3D printing; the development of integrated software for additive systems; and the implementation of 3D printing services and their introduction into industry, including in the organisation of production centres.

Image: RusAT’s DMD 3D printer (courtesy of RusAT)