Y-12 nuclear weapons plant also made the innovations list – winning Top-100 recognition for its Modulated Tool-Path Chip Breaking System.

Y-12-MaroonORNL won eight R&D 100 awards, but the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant also made the innovations list — winning Top-100 recognition for its Modulated Tool-Path Chip Breaking System.

According to info released by Y-12, “The researchers used computer modeling and simulation to produce a chip-breaking motion that allows users to create predetermined chip lengths while machining any work piece material in any shape and with any depth of cut.” The Oak Ridge researchers, Bill Barkman and Ed Babelay, worked with a team from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Y-12 is the nation’s principal repository for weapons-grade uranium, and the plant manufactures and dismantles warhead parts made from uranium and other materials. Steven Wyatt, a federal spokesman at Y-12, said the new technology had not yet been applied to the machining of enriched uranium, but it’s under consideration.

B&W, the contractor that manages Y-12, said the challenge for the researchers was to come up with a way to break into smaller pieces “the tangle of long metal shavings, also known as chips, that come from machining operations” at the Oak Ridge facility.

“Machining operations that involve turning or boring of ductile metal parts on a lathe produce chips that frequently become entangled in a ‘bird nest.’ The bird nest can damage the machinery, cause a significant safety hazard to the machine operator and complicate cleanup of the work space,” the Y-12 release said.

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Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
Photo: B&W Y-12