The ExOne Company announced about its licence from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), for the method of 3D printing aluminium-infiltrated boron carbide (B4C) collimators and other components in neutron imaging.
A team at ORNL led by David C. Anderson, group Leader of Instrument Engineering, developed a process to 3D print objects in B4C, a neutron-absorbing material, and then infiltrate the objects with aluminium. Amy Elliott and Bianca Haberl of ORNL are the co-inventors of this process.
The significance of the development is due to the lightweight and strong properties of the aluminium-infused B4C. Other characteristics include energy-absorbing nature that are particularly useful in neutron scattering instruments, which enable researchers to capture data down to the atomic level.
“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 head, which enables analysis of complex processes in-situ,” explained Dan Brunermer, Technical Fellow, The ExOne Company. The company has a plan to use the license in commercializing the 3D production of aluminium-infiltrated B4C objects, such as shielding equipment and components used in neutron scattering instrumentation.
The new method of creating B4C objects welcomes new objects that can be beneficial in deflecting or absorbing energy, which can protect people and environment from radiation.
The licence includes pending U.S. patent application no. 16/155, 134, entitled “Collimators and Other Components from Neutron Absorbing Materials using Additive Manufacturing,” as well as two additional provisional filings. Also, the company will engage in ongoing 3D printing production of a variety of B4C matric components used in neutron scattering experiments at ORNL.
“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.