The ExOne Company reached a commercial license agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to 3D print parts in aluminum-infiltrated boron carbide (B4C). Researchers at ORNL developed the patent-pending method of 3D printing aluminum-infiltrated B4C on an ExOne M-Flex, a 3D printer that uses binder-jetting technology to 3D print objects in metals, ceramics and other powder materials.
In 2019, ExOne executed an R&D license for the manufacturing process. That license has been expanded to commercial use so that ExOne can begin printing aluminum-infiltrated B4C collimators, shielding equipment and other components used in neutron-scattering research.
Aluminum-infused B4C has strong but lightweight properties. It also has neutron-absorbing characteristics that are particularly useful in neutron-scattering instruments, which enable researchers to capture data down to the atomic level.