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AMCM system to print tungsten parts for CERN LHCb upgrade

The ultra precise AMCM M 290-2 FDR will deliver solid blocks with thousands of tiny holes

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The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator (LHC) is being upgraded, and AMCM, a company specializing in customizing EOS metal 3D printers, is part of it. In their quest to enable physicists to study rare processes and phenomena, the accelerator and its experiments undergo significant upgrades to achieve increasingly greater precision. The next upgrade for the LHCb, one of the experiments, will be 3D printed in tungsten.

The energies of electrons and photons are measured using LHCb’s electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL). The ECAL is a large wall of 7 x 8 meters, consisting of 12 x 12 cm modules. The plan is to replace the innermost 32 modules, an area of about 0.5 square meters, where conditions are most challenging and crucial for success, with new structures made of tungsten.

AMCM and CERN collaborate to 3D print tungsten parts for CERN LHCb ECAL upgrade using AMCM M 290-2 FDR 3D printer Dipl.-Ing. Hubert Gerwig (CERN) stated: “The production of the new tungsten structures was unthinkable 5 years ago – 3D printing alone brought the breakthrough. Thanks to the AMCM M 290-2 FDR system with fine detail resolution we get the high-quality parts we need for this experimental setup, which is very sensitive to the smallest imperfections.”

The exact requirement is for 160,000 square holes, each measuring 1.2 x 1.2 millimeters, on a module that 150 mm long, with 500 µm wall thickness, and great surface quality. This is where 3D printing comes in, making this design possible in the first place.

The tungsten modules are manufactured using the AMCM M 290-2 FDR system. This is the only way to produce tungsten blocks with about 5,000 square holes on a 500 µm wall thickness. The holes are filled with so-called scintillation fibers. The fibers must not be scratched by a rough surface, so the surface quality of the tungsten walls must be high.

This turned out to be an ideal application for the AMCM M 290-2 FDR system. FDR stands for fine detail resolution, which means the machine is able to deliver demanding applications with the finest structures down to 100 μm. It is not the first time that CERN has embraced AM. Many will remember another fascinating case working with 3D Systems on a DMP350 metal 3D printer, to 3D print an array of 44 thin-wall (250um) complex high-precision cooling circuit components, also for the LHCb detector at CERN.

More recently Trumpf and CERN collaborated to 3D print the first quadrupole component made for accelerators using laser-based PBF 3D printing and pure copper. This achievement was made possible by Fraunhofer IWS, together with CERN, Rīgas Tehniskā universitāte (Riga Technical University) and Politecnico di Milano, all partners of the EU-funded project IFAST coordinated by CERN, which aims to enhance innovation in the particle accelerator community and use accelerators to address global societal challenges.

AMCM and CERN collaborate to 3D print tungsten parts for CERN LHCb ECAL upgrade using AMCM M 290-2 FDR 3D printer
The AMCM M 290-2 FDR system
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