INL is operating an Optomec LENS MR-7 Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) system currently located at the Experimental Fuels Facility (EFF). This system utilizes an embedded 1 kW laser to sinter or create a melt pool from powdered material that is sprayed through a number of nozzles onto a build platform located inside a glovebox with an inert argon atmosphere. Simple or complex layups of varied compositions of materials can be formed into a net shape or near-net shape through the selection and control of the powder feedstock material as it is sprayed underneath the laser light. The results from this process can revolutionize the approaches to fabrication of nuclear and non-nuclear components and systems over traditional casting or subtractive machining.
Materials that can be processed by the system at EFF include those for cladding, nuclear fuels, and structural components. Ceramic, metallic, and cermet materials can be fabricated into net shapes. The geometry of the parts are created using modern computer-aided design (CAD) software and transposed to machine code to drive the mechanical motion of the build platform and substrate underneath the powder spray and laser optical assembly.
Fabrication of cladding, nuclear fuels, and structural components from ceramic, metallic, and cermet materials.