#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Nornickel begins using 3D printers to print parts for complex equipment. The holding unites about fifty enterprises that are engaged in everything – from exploration and production to enrichment and production of nickel, platinum and other valuable metals. Many of the company’s sites are located far from industrial centers, so the delivery time for equipment and consumables can be long.
“Sometimes the right part has to be ordered months in advance. You can imagine what a problem it is for people involved in maintaining the equipment efficiency, because everything needs to be foreseen and advance purchase orders for many items should be prepared”, Kirill Yartsev, Nornickel’s Technological Innovation Department’s Additive Technologies head, told techinsider.ru reporters.
Thanks to 3D printing, the desired parts can be obtained almost immediately. The usual production of components requires a whole factory with many specialists and a large fleet of equipment for milling, forging, welding. And having several 3D printers of different types, it is possible to produce a part basis if not the part itself.
In addition, import substitution is now important. Previously, the company bought a considerable amount of equipment and parts abroad.
The company’s goal is to avoid unplanned equipment downtime as much as possible, to achieve a ratio of 70:30 between Western and Russian parts manufacturers. From this point of view, 3D printing is an anchor technology for import substitution.
Plastic in 3D printing, the simplest and most common technology, is used at Nornickel to quickly replace small, non-critical components.
For important, heavily loaded components, experts use Binder Jetting (BJ) – this is the layer-by-layer application of powder and binder, which allows the use of different materials, including ceramics, gypsum, metals and sand.
“Another direction is printing directly with metal, using laser sintering. As a rule, with this method we get no more than a few parts, but they can be made quickly, and for some positions it is also inexpensive”, says Kirill Yartsev.
Nornickel specialists are simultaneously working on creating their own materials for printing parts – powders based on heat-resistant nickel-chromium alloys. They are resistant to high temperatures and aggressive chemical environments.
“Perhaps someday we will start mass production of such powders for 3D printing, because there is a lot of nickel, which means we should be there”, Kirill Yartsev emphasized.
Recall that Arctic ships parts samples were created on a 3D printer. Earlier, Nornickel showed the future metallurgy technology – exoskeletons, VR, drones and robots.
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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nornickel press service and Nikolay Shchipko