New additive manufacturing techniques devised by engineers from Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory could be used to 3D-print parts for complex machinery, such as particle accelerators, as well as vacuum electronic devices for applications in medical imaging, the electrical grid, satellite communications and more.
“We’re trying to print a particle accelerator, which is really ambitious,” says SLAC’s Diana Gamzina.
“We’ve been developing the process over the past few years, and we can already print particle accelerator components today. The whole point of 3D printing is to make stuff no matter where you are without a lot of infrastructure.”
By using extremely pure copper powder, and moving the printing platform about 50 microns between each layer, the team can attain the precision it needs for the parts.
However, this process introduces oxygen into the layers — a problem that will need to be solved before the technology is put to practical use.