CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to be upgraded with tungsten additively manufactured modules

March 30, 2023

The tungsten modules, with around 5000 square holes measuring 1.2 x 1.2 x 150 mm are manufactured using the AMCM M 290-2 FDR Additive Manufacturing machine (Courtesy AMCM/CERN)
The tungsten modules, with around 5000 square holes measuring 1.2 x 1.2 x 150 mm are manufactured using the AMCM M 290-2 FDR Additive Manufacturing machine (Courtesy AMCM/CERN)

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) based at CERN, is being upgraded with additively manufactured tungsten modules that will enable physicists study rare processes and phenomena with increased precision.

The tungsten modules will form the centre of the LHC’s electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL), a large 7 x 8 m wall structure that measures the energies of electrons and photons. The ECAL is made up of 12 x 12 cm modules and the plan is to replace the innermost 32 modules, an area of about 0.5 m2 where conditions are most challenging and crucial for success, with the new structures made of tungsten.

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The tungsten modules are manufactured using the AMCM M 290-2 FDR metal Additive Manufacturing machine from Additive Manufacturing Customized Machines (AMCM), an EOS Group company based in Starnberg, Germany. Each of the tungsten blocks has around 5000 square holes of 1.2 x 1.2 x 150 mm with a 500 µm wall thickness, and are filled with scintillation fibres. The fibres must not be scratched by a rough surface, so the surface quality of the tungsten walls must be high.

The plan is to replace the innermost 32 modules in the ECAL with additively manufactured structures made of tungsten (Courtesy AMCM/CERN)
The plan is to replace the innermost 32 modules in the ECAL with additively manufactured structures made of tungsten (Courtesy AMCM/CERN)

“The production of the new tungsten structures was unthinkable five years ago – 3D printing alone brought the breakthrough,” stated Dipl-Ing Hubert Gerwig, a senior engineer at CERN. “Thanks to the AMCM M 290-2 FDR system with fine detail resolution we get the high-quality parts we need for this experimental setup, which is very sensitive to the smallest imperfections.”

The AMCM M 290-2 FDR is a dual head fine detail resolution Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing machine and is suited to demanding applications such as this. It has two 400-watt lasers and a build volume of 150 x 220 x 325 mm.

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