The end cover of a refrigerating machine for compressed air production, manufactured by metal 3D printing technology, recently made its debut in the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province, the first gigawatt-level commercial NPP on the Chinese mainland.
The end cover resulted from CGN's research on applying 3D printing technology to the manufacturing and maintenance of NPP spare parts.
Some nuclear power equipment, especially if imported, has a complex structure and strict requirements for its operational environment and mechanical properties, which results in high cost in time and money.
Thanks to 3D printing technology, complex devices can be manufactured by integral moulding and still offer good performance and cost advantages. The printing process effectively solves the urgent demand for emergency parts and optimizes stocking of spare parts.
China Nuclear Power Operations Co, a CGN subsidiary, has researched 3D printing technology's application in the nuclear power industry since 2016.
Qin Yuxin, deputy general manager of the company, said that the end cover was made of the EAM235 alloy (which contains carbon, silicon, manganese, chromium, nickel, molybdenum and copper) with the help of leading 3D printing technology, adding that it's a "big leap" in the application of the technology in the nuclear power industry.
CGN, China’s largest and the world's third largest nuclear operator, has 20 units in operation and eight units under construction with installed capacity totaling 31.47 GW.
3D printing technology will bring revolutionary changes to design, R&D, manufacture, repair, parts supply and stock management of nuclear power equipment, Qin said.