Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM), the Massachusetts-based manufacturer of metal binder jet 3D printers, has announced that Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), has started using Desktop’s X-Series line of printers at its facility in Salt Lake City, Utah. USNC is known for developing the Micro Modular Reactor: the first “fission battery” to be used for real-world applications, and which was created by the company’s founders at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
The X-Series line is Desktop’s rebranding of the ceramics and metal binder jet line produced by ExOne, which Desktop purchased last November. USNC currently has two small-format InnoventX machines in use, and is planning on purchasing two more machines — the larger X25Pro and X160Pro models — later in 2022.
USNC made news earlier this year when it announced it was licensing ORNL’s proprietary method producing parts silicon carbide using a combination of binder jetting and chemical vapor infiltration. This is the “advanced material capability of the X-Series machines” which Dr. Terrani says is “fundamental to [USNC’s] innovative approach to fuel design”. The main advantage of USNC’s (and ORNL’s) method is that it facilitates the manufacture of parts in geometrically complex designs, which are difficult or impossible to achieve with other production methods.
A company whose future potential has attracted great interest from investors, but which has so far struggled to translate its buzz into real-world results, Desktop Metal — thanks to its purchase of ExOne — has perhaps found its niche in providing printers for the increasingly important field of nuclear 3D printing. And, given the ongoing litany of world events that have, as one of their main effects, crippled energy supply lines, it seems likely that nuclear power will continue to become an even more significant source of global electric capacity.
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