Just on the heels of our discussion with Russia’s Rusatom – Additive Technologies (RusAT), the company has announced that, working with the All-Russia Research Institute of Technical Physics (VNIITF), it has developed a range of lasers for use in powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printing.
VNTIIF has created prototypes for 200, 400, 700 and 1000 W lasers, which will next undergo a series of tests at the Russian institute. They will then be sent to RusAT’s new Additive Technologies Center (ATC) in Moscow for further testing on the company’s RusMelt 300M and 600M metal 3D printers. By the end of the year, the laser sources will have been put through complete testing cycles based on national standards to set the stage for serial production.
RusAT is, of course, a subsidiary of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom (ROSATOM), the largest electricity company in the country and one of the world’s leading nuclear power businesses. It has 36 nuclear power plant units in development across 12 countries, giving it one of the largest portfolios of nuclear power plants overseas. It also has the greatest market share in uranium enrichment, making for one-third of the world’s uranium enrichment activities.
“[The [l]aser system is one of the key components of an SLM printer along with machinery components and software. The created line of lasers is an opportunity to fully provide the additive manufacturing of Rosatom with its own developments, which is necessary for the business stability and independence from external suppliers. Moreover, in the future, RusAT will be able to accept orders for laser products of this line,” said Mikhail Turundaev, CEO of RusAT.
In our interview with Turundaev, he told us how the pandemic’s impact on supply chains played a role in waking the nation up to the issues related to overreliance on foreign goods. For this reason, the ATC was developed to enable a domestic supply of 3D printing technologies. That way, if future supply chain problems arise, it will be easier to supply and maintain production equipment within Russia’s borders.
Crucial for such a strategy, then, is featuring domestic parts within the printers themselves, including lasers, as referenced in that interview. Future 3D printing technologies RusAT may release include wire arc AM, selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography. Other processes are also in the pipeline, such as electron beam melting, ceramic 3D printing, composites and more. RusAT believes it may have a WAAM machine developed by the end of the year. The lasers could naturally be useful in the SLS systems, as well.
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