Honors Gallery

ORNL and MVP Join Forces to Make Thermoset Materials an Option for 3D Printing

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2021

Award Type: National

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Magnum Venus Products Inc. (MVP) of Knoxville, Tennessee, have created and deployed the world’s first large-scale thermoset additive manufacturing machine. 

Thermoset materials have several advantages over thermoplastics in additive manufacturing, which involves depositing a material onto a build platform and building up an object layer by layer. Layering times with thermoset materials are shorter, printing requires less energy, and the cross-linking of polymers between printed layers results in stronger products that are more tolerant of high temperatures. 

The Reactive Additive Manufacturing (RAM) machine is the first product of its type that is commercially available to industry for 3D printing of thermoset materials. Introduced to the market in September 2019, the RAM allows for a wide range of applications, including low-cost fixtures, tools and autoclave molds for a variety of industries such as marine, tub and shower, automotive and aerospace. 

With a current print area of 16 by 8 by 3.5 feet, the RAM machine can produce large-scale parts, in various resolutions, using thermoset materials. The patent-pending removable table decreases print-cycle time and streamlines post-processing.

“Thanks to this innovation, research and development managers will be able to prototype faster and bring products to market faster,” said Bob Vanderhoff, CEO of MVP. 

At ORNL, partnerships with industry — the additive manufacturing industry in particular — are a key success factor. 

“We value working closely with our industrial partners like MVP to ensure we’re accelerating the path for commercialization to increase American competitiveness,” said Moe Khaleel, deputy for projects at ORNL. 

A family-owned business for more than 80 years, MVP is a global manufacturer of fluid movement and production solutions for industrial applications in composites and adhesives markets. 

“Thanks to this innovation, research and development managers will be able to prototype faster and bring products to market faster,” said Bob Vanderhoff, CEO of MVP. 

MVP has worked with ORNL under two Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). Signed in April 2017, the first CRADA was a two-year agreement focused on raising the technology’s readiness to the level of operational prototype for demonstration. Each party brought $500,000 in value to the effort.

The second CRADA, signed in February 2020, is a three-year agreement not only to further develop the RAM but also to advance new techniques for making filament-wound additively manufactured cores, which will further enhance the RAM’s market potential. MVP is recognized as a leader in the filament winding industry.

In April 2020, ORNL licensed two technologies to MVP. The first was a non-exclusive license for the Reactive Polymer Fused Deposition Manufacturing technology solely developed by ORNL. That technology has now been licensed by three companies. The second agreement was an exclusive license for the segmented build platform co-developed by MVP and ORNL.

Team Members:

Dr. Eugene Cochran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Christopher Hershey, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Mike Kastura, Magnum Venus Products, Dr. Vlastimil Kunc, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, John Lindahl, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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