ExOne Company and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the US have formed an agreement to 3D print parts with aluminum-infiltrated boron carbide (B4C).

Researchers at ORNL have developed the patent-pending method using an ExOne M-Flex, which uses binder jetting technology to 3D print objects in metals, ceramics and other powder materials.

In this case, the B4C was 3D printed and the parts then infiltrated with aluminum. Infiltration is when a material is wetted or absorbed into another material like water into a sponge. The final aluminum-infiltrated B4C material is produced as a metal-matrix composite, a type of cermet.

According to ExOne, the final material has strong but lightweight properties, as well as neutron-absorbing characteristics that can be used in neutron scattering instruments, which enable researchers to capture data down to the atomic level.

Using traditional methods, manufacturers face limitations in the shapes of collimators they can produce, which also limits the type of research and other work that could be done with them. The new method could lead to the development of new types of objects useful in deflecting or absorbing energy, which can protect people and the environment from radiation, ExOne says.

The comp will also engage in ongoing 3D printing production of a variety of B4C matrix components used in neutron scattering experiments at ORNL.

This story uses material from ExOne, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.