Swedish company Freemelt, which makes additive manufacturing (AM) machines, has received a SEK 1 million order from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to develop ways to 3D print tungsten parts for use in fusion energy power plants.

According to the company, tungsten has great mechanical strength, high corrosion resistance and a melting point of 3,400°C, which makes it suitable for use in industrial processes involving extreme temperatures, such as fusion energy production.

“We are developing tungsten material processes for eMELT, our coming industrial metal 3D printer,” said Freemelt CEO Daniel Gidlund. “Tungsten is difficult to manufacture with traditional methods and can be costly. Using our electron beam technology and our software, Pixelmelt, we will develop methods to enable production at scale. We look forward to working with UKAEA in attempt to put fusion electricity on the grid.”

In fusion machines, energy is created in the same way as in the sun by merging hydrogen atoms to helium. This reaction occurs at temperatures exceeding one hundred million degrees. The heat from this process is extreme and therefore the most heat-resistant metals in the chamber walls are required.

According to Freemelt, fusion energy could be a safer, lower carbon and more sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply.