The Mechanics Service of Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS) of INFN has recently been equipped with ATO Lab +, a compact machine for the SPRAY DRYING of metal materials which, by means of an ultrasonic technology, allows to produce spherical particles with a diameter between 20 and 100 millionths of a meter.
It is the first instrument of its kind installed in Italy, inside a Laboratory INFN, devoted to activities of Research and Development (R&D). The extremely compact structure of the instrument allows to comfortably use it even in restricted spaces: thanks to this feature the LNGS will be able to independently produce the raw material needed to realize complex components and assemblies for detectors and particle accelerator, using machines devoted to metal Additive Manufacturing available at LNGS.
The uniqueness of this condition is the possibility of producing material that is not always available in the market. One of the most strict demands for the LNGS experiments is in fact is the radiopurity of the detectors’ components. As it is not possible to buy metal powder with these specific features, the Mechanics Service of LNGS will be able to produce it independently. This unique equipment able to to develope innovative components, aroused the interest of other Research Laboratories and Universities who have partnered therefore with LNGS.
The SPRAY DRYING PROCESS is based on a system that, starting from metal bars or wires, such as titanium, aluminum and copper or from a wide range of alloys like steel, is able to turn them in powder. Specifically, a torch melts the metal material producing droplets that are conveyed in a lower temperature chamber. The droplets solidify, becoming grains. In the last phase of the process the grains are further separated by ultrasound thus obtaining metal powders which are then used in the metal additive manufacturing through the Selective Laser Melting technology, already available at the Gran Sasso Laboratory. This additive technology uses a high power laser beam to melt a metal powder bed and produce the object you want to realize, layer by layer.
Video interview: Donato Orlandi (Head of LNGS Mechanics Service) and Daniele Cortis (Responsible of Design and Additive Manufacturing Department).
In these days the machine was started up; in the next months, thanks to a collaboration with Canfranc Laboratories (Spain) it will start the production of radiopure copper powder, deriving from the atomization of selected electroformed radiopure copper for the first tests on the functionality of the process.
The purchase of the atomizer is part of a project conceived two years ago by Donato Orlandi, responsible for the Mechanics Service of the LNGS, in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in the person of Marc Schumann, Freiburg University.
Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso – Relazioni Esterne
REIS - 07.02.2023