In the pursuit of clean energy solutions, CEA, the dynamic French research powerhouse faced a challenge in crafting precise neodymium magnets, created at a scorching 1600 degrees Celsius. A crucial component missing was a mixer resilient to high temperatures and chemical reactions. Traditional materials failed, leading CEA to seek innovative solutions.
In their quest for precision, CEA initially experimented with a graphite carbon mixer, but it proved inadequate. The carbon mixer reacted chemically with the molten metal mix, leading to contamination and compromised accuracy in measurements. This unexpected chemical tango between carbon and the neodymium mix prompted CEA to seek an alternative solution. They needed a material capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures of 1600 degrees Celsius, resisting chemical reactions, and providing the necessary mechanical strength for effective mixing. Zetamix by Nanoe provided the solution – the Silicon Carbide (SiC) filament. Its key features include high density (up to 99%), thermal shock resistance, and resistance to abrasion and corrosion. When printed at 120°C and sintered at 2200°C under a partial vacuum (Ar 90 MB), the SiC Filament met CEA’s requirements for this application. Recognized for its hardness and thermal resilience, SiC became the material of choice.
The benefits of employing FFF/FDM 3D printing extend further than just manufacturing, providing a precise and high-performance component. This is attributed to design flexibility, cost efficiency, rapid prototyping, and customization. The pivotal role of 3D printing the mixer with SiC filament went beyond creating an accurate and high-performance component; it addressed the specific needs of CEA. This was indispensable for their unique application—steering the neodymium mix to precisely measure its composition using a LIBS laser. The laser, directed at the surface, scrutinized the material’s composition, demanding meticulous control over the mix. Traditional materials like graphite proved inadequate due to a reactive interplay with the molten mix, resulting in contamination and compromised accuracy. In stark contrast, the special Silicon Carbide (SiC) material emerged as the optimal choice. Its temperature-resistant nature ensured stability during the process, guarding against the issues encountered with graphite.
The advantages of 3D printing, coupled with the exceptional qualities of SiC filament, not only facilitated efficient mixing but also contributed to cost savings and rapid prototyping—culminating in a customized solution precisely meeting CEA’s requirements. CEA’s collaboration with Zetamix and the use of the SiC filament not only addressed immediate needs but also laid the foundation for future advancements in clean energy research. This case underscores the potent synergy between advanced materials, 3D printing technologies, and innovative solutions in scientific research and development laboratories.