Collaboration: 3D-printing allows production of environmentally friendly radiation absorbers

2020-01-29

A new high-technology polymer composite for radiation shielding applications has been launched by the Uppsala University spin-off company Additive Composite Uppsala AB. The material is optimized for 3D-printing which makes it easier for industry and big science facilities to replace toxic materials.

The ability to make complex shapes easily by means of 3D printing is important to provide effective shielding of stray radiation and to provide collimated beams. Photo: Additive Composite Uppsala AB.

The material, consisting of boron carbide and nylon, has been developed and produced as filament optimized for 3D printing. It is a joint development of Additive Composite Uppsala AB and Add North AB, and provides an effective alternative to the use of other materials such as cadmium metal in many applications.

The boron carbide provides effective absorption of neutrons such as those produced at major research facilities, in the nuclear industry or other places that use radiation sources. The ability to make complex shapes easily by means of 3D printing is important to provide effective shielding of stray radiation and to provide collimated beams.

Adam Engberg, research engineer at Uppsala University and the CEO of Additive Composite, commented in a company press release that the new material can contribute to the development of additive manufacturing and help both industry and large-scale research facilities to replace toxic materials, and consequently reduce the need for cadmium.

The material, marketed under the name Addbor N25, is based on original research work conducted at Uppsala University. Additive Composite Uppsala AB was established in 2018 to commercialise developments of new composites and additive manufacturing technology. It has already delivered components to, for example, the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund.

Addbor N25 is the first in a range of radiation shielding materials that the company is currently developing.

Basic research at Uppsala University in this area has been described in various articles including: Anders Olsson, Maja S. Hellsing, Adrian R. Rennie ‘New possibilities using additive manufacturing with materials that are difficult to process and with complex structures’ Physica Scripta, Volume 92, (2017), 053002.