Concurrent Technologies Corporation’s CANM Applies Reverse Engineering and Advanced Scanning Techniques
Johnstown, PA, April 6, 2022 -- As the U.S legacy nuclear power fleet ages, the availability of critical spare parts is becoming a significant issue. Many of these parts are either no longer available from original manufacturers or have extremely long lead times and high cost from offshore suppliers. Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), operator of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing (CANM), led an effort to develop 3-dimensional (3D) digital models from physical specimens using advanced scanning technologies and then applied advanced manufacturing technologies to produce new components.
In this project, which was financed by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, CANM worked closely with Westinghouse Electric Company, regional suppliers, and three of Pennsylvania’s major electric utilities to apply advanced manufacturing technologies to reverse engineer and manufacture typical components to demonstrate the viability of this approach.
“CTC’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing, working in collaboration with Westinghouse and other Pennsylvania manufacturers, has demonstrated that advanced reverse engineering and manufacturing technologies can yield rapid, low-cost solutions to a growing problem in this industry,” said Robert E. Akans, CTC Metalworking Technology Senior Director. “The technology roadmap created by this team can serve as a valuable tool for all industries facing these obsolescence issues.”
The project team evaluated several candidate components and assemblies that were causing significant issues for the end users and ultimately selected four representative items for demonstration. This diverse mix of parts enabled the team to apply reverse engineering technologies to generate suitable part models, as well as to evaluate and apply various advanced manufacturing technologies to produce dimensionally accurate and functionally acceptable components. The selected components included a bronze valve assembly subject to severe erosion, a non-metallic circuit breaker cover, a large, complex 3-piece bearing bracket assembly and a high-pressure globe valve.
Advanced manufacturing processes applied to produce the components included:
- 3D printed sand molds for casting bronze valve components and large complex cast iron parts
- Laser Powder Bed Fusion printing of valve bodies directly from a solid model
- Binder Jetting Additive Manufacturing (BJAM), combined with bronze alloy infiltration to directly print valve components with improved erosion resistance.
All of the demonstrated technologies negated the costs of creating patterns, molds and other tooling which can be cost-prohibitive for small quantities of parts. The resulting components were dimensionally evaluated against the part models and demonstrated excellent conformance to the part models.
“Parts obsolescence is a pervasive issue in the nuclear power industry, and the accomplishments of this team clearly demonstrate that manufacturing technology advancements in recent years provide excellent opportunities to address these issues,” said Edward J. Sheehan, Jr., CTC President and CEO. “Through these efforts, opportunities for growth in the manufacturing sector of Pennsylvania businesses is enhanced.”
Case study summaries were prepared for each of the demonstration parts which were provided to the power utilities for their use. A comprehensive summary that essentially provides a “roadmap” of the overall reverse engineering process was prepared and is available to interested organizations.
Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) is an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization. CTC collaborates with its technology transition affiliate, Enterprise Ventures Corporation, to leverage research, development, test and evaluation work to provide transformative, full lifecycle solutions. To best serve our clients’ needs, we offer the complete ability to fully design, develop, test, prototype and build. We deliver robust, technical, and innovative solutions that safeguard our national security, retain U.S. technological advantage, and ensure the primacy of American manufacturing. For more information about CTC, visit www.ctc.com.