SIMIC Spa and CNIM Industrial Systems have started manufacturing the first of the 70 radial plates that will support the superconducting cables of ITER's Toroidal Field coils. The components will essentially confine the hot plasma with the help of powerful magnets. Each company will have to manufacture 35 radial plates that measure 14m by 9m. We visited the facilities of the two companies to find out how works are advancing.
SIMIC Spa has built a new industrial building in Porto Marghera to accommodate the production of the radial plate prototype, with brand new facilities and tooling, in order to support the production of the radial plates. A massive portal machine has been installed, which will operate in addition to the existing one that was used for the machining of the prototype, to manufacture the 35 radial plates. Marianna Ginola, SIMIC Spa, explains that the manufacturing phase of the radial plates is the most exciting part of our contribution to the project. Our new building is ready, new tooling is in place. The production of the radial plates has started! This is a turning point for the project because the design starts taking shape and the impressive milling machine that SIMC has invested into is put to operation. Our expertise will be fully deployed to deliver these key components.
CNIM's building at its Brégaillon industrial site has been renovated, and a brand new 3000m² production hall has been constructed close to the sea, to facilitate the transportation of large items that will be manufactured. The new building is fully air-conditioned to enable equipment to be kept at a constant temperature during its final machining. Inside the building, a 36m by 9m portal machining centre stands out ready to machine two radial plates simultaneously to a precision of several tens of microns, as Jean-Claude Cercassi, CNIM Commercial Development Manager, confirms. Work is progressing fast at CNIM after the first batches of raw materials were delivered. The stainless steel segments have been machined and we are about to start with the electron beam welding, Cercassi explains. This is now possible thanks to the installation of a dismountable vacuum chamber.
The first radial plates are scheduled to be completed in July, when they will be transported by sea to La Spezia (Italy) to be fitted inside the ITER Toroidal Field coils at a facility run by ASG Superconductors. After producing a second radial plate five weeks later, CNIM and SIMIC Spa are expected to accelerate production to a rate of one plate every four weeks.
In the picture, PAMA Gantry machine to be used for the radial plates final machining operations at SIMIC (SIMIC copyright)