3D Printers

Russian scientists develop country’s first electron beam metal 3D printer

It’s not everyday the Russian Embassy contacts us at 3D Printing Industry, but today we received notification from a representative that Russian scientists have developed their first large format metal 3D printer.

The research was conducted in association with Tomsk Electronic Technologies (TETA). Previously, Grigory V. Semyonov, Chairman of the TETA board gave a presentation at the 2015 Additive Technologies:present day and future conference entitled, “Application of electron-beam unit 6Е250 for 3D growing of metal products.”

A unique device for Russia

Speaking to the Russian News Agency TASS, the fourth largest news agency in the world, Semyonov said that the 3D printer, “is a unique device for Russia.” The TETA chairman added,

Today, the dominant position in producing metal items is held by printers, which use laser as a source of energy and metal in the form of powder. Our device uses metal wire while power is supplied by an electron beam, which helps ensure high productivity that is measured by kilograms per hour while other methods can only ensure output measured by kilograms per day.

In conversations at events such the International Astronautical Congress, 3D Printing Industry has spoken with other experts about the possibility of working with such 3D printers for off-world fabrication.

Reportedly, the TETA electron beam 3D printer has a build volume of 3 cubic meters and can fabricate objects weighing up to 1 tonne. Material options permit refractory metals such as titanium, tantalum and tungsten. Semyonov explains, “the advantage of the electron beam method is that the process takes place in vacuum, which excludes oxidation. You can combine materials and create items with a specified controlled internal structure.”

3D printing for the space industry

As we’ve frequently reported, large format metal 3D printers are increasingly finding application in the Space industry.

Virgin Galactic are using a DMG MORI hybrid additive manufacturing system and Blue Origin, the private space company run by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has used a Sciaky machine. Blue Origins President says that compared to components made with traditional casting methods 3D printed parts have significant advantages. In particular an additive part that took 3 months to make is a significant reduction on the traditional methods that, “took over a year to produce.”

Using an Arcam Electron Beam Melting system, Lockheed Martin and NASA have already sent 3D printed parts to Jupiter.

3D printed brackets for the Juno mission. Photo by Michael Petch.
3D printed brackets for the Juno mission. Photo by Michael Petch.

According to TASS the use of large format metal 3D printing for aerospace and defense in Russia, “is weakly developed so far and the Tomsk device is set to close this gap.”

The research is a collaboration between Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation (part of Roscosmos federal space agency), TETA company, the Institute of Strength Physics and Material Science of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Tomsk Polytechnic University. We look forward to reporting more details as they become available.

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