Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Resource Revolutions

3D printing helps conserve resources and reduce waste in service of the Laboratory’s pit-production goal.
February 1, 2019
Resource Revolution

A commercially-produced bobbin has many parts and pieces, each one representing a potential point of failure (left), while a 3D-printed bobbin (right) is cheaper and works better, being essentially one piece, albeit elaborately shaped, of transparent material.

3D printing is particularly useful for making items with intricate internal spaces.

As the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research and Development, Los Alamos is one of the national laboratories charged with scaling up the production of pits—the plutonium cores used in nuclear weapons. In order to meet this mission goal, Laboratory scientists are looking for creative new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle within the pit-production process. Costs can be conserved by reducing the footprint of certain chemical processes within the facility, by reusing as much plutonium as possible, and by recycling key materials to minimize waste and maybe generate a bit of revenue to offset costs.

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