Out of the modern marvels of scientific world, none is arguably more iconic than CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The massive compound runs for 27 kilometres, making it the largest single machine on the planet. Sadly, this means repairs can be an onerous task. Luckily, researchers are now looking to alleviate their repair woes with 3D printing.
In a new series of tests, scientists have been making use of 3D printed beam position monitors (BPM) and the results have shown that the components are compatible with Ultra-high Vacuum conditions. The purpose of the research, at this point, was to prove that they could vastly simplify the designs of particle accelerator components.
The i3D process, as they call it, allows for them to optimise the design and make complex shapes previously unthought of. As a result, these shapes can help improve the overall durability and resistance to pressure changes with minimal materials.
Optimising the LHC
The researchers used a topology optimisation software that they got from Altair: INSPIRE. It allowed them to greatly alter the BPM’s flange to reduce the weight of the overall component by about 40%. The structure demanded a non-traditional means of 3D printing that did not use supports. To achieve this, they made the BPM with a vertical beam axis and a taper added underneath the electrical feedthrough.
“One of the difficulties of BPM manufacturing by traditional means was the thin cylindrical striplines: to have the correct relationship between the body diameter and the electrodes diameter, the electrodes had to be less than 2 mm thick but attempts to make this with traditional manufacturing methods using a lathe failed as this was too thin,” the researchers state. “The same electrodes with a 2 mm thickness were manufactured without any difficulty by i3D.”
They printed the part within 36 hours, taking one week to complete the file sharing, sending and manufacturing. This was a stark improvement on the usual 4 to 6 weeks that it takes to make it with traditional manufacturing. As expected, they also ended up saving costs on the whole process.
Next, the researchers will perform measurements with stretched wires. Once the measurements have been performed they can test the 3D printed BPM along with two traditionally manufactured BPMs at the PHIL photo injector. These results will illuminate many aspects of the process and it may become a standard part of the particle accelerator.
Featured image courtesy of CERN.