SIMIC concludes production of its share of radial plates for ITER Toroidal Field coils
The final radial plate manufactured by SIMIC is loaded on the vessel
It is early in the morning and an impressive metallic component is carefully wrapped and ready to leave for the port of Marghera, near Venice, in order to de delivered to La Spezia, near Genoa. Due to its large size (13 x 9 m) and heavy weigh, close to 10 T, it will travel by sea to reach the facility where F4E is manufacturing Europe's Toroidal Field coils. The cranes are ready to lift the component and carefully load it on the vessel.
SIMIC, an Italian SME specialised in engineering and manufacturing of large machined components, has recently completed the production of its share of radial plates. Together with CNIM, the two companies have been entrusted by F4E to manufacture a total of 70 stainless steel plates. Inside the grooves of the D-shaped plates, the superconducting conductor of the one of the biggest magnets in history will nestle in order to contribute towards the confinement of the ITER plasma.
It has taken more than four years to complete the series of production involving up to 70 people. Marianna Ginola, SIMIC Commercial Director, explains that "the teams have been working on three shifts and very often during weekends and bank holidays. We moved our most experienced resources to our factory in Marghera in order to capitalise on their expertise in the most critical production stages. With their support and commitment, coupled with the good collaboration with F4E, we have managed to achieve this result."
To view the manufacturing process of the ITER TF coil radial plates view the clip
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In order to understand what is challenging about the fabrication of this component, we asked Alessandro Bonito-Oliva, F4E Magnets Project Manager, to elaborate. "After the superconducting conductor of the TF coils is heat treated and electrically insulated, it is inserted into the grooves of the radial plates. Its trajectory must match the one of the radial plate. For this reason, all radial plate grooves are machined perfectly matching the trajectory of the conductor." Once the radial plate has been electrically insulated and impregnated, a so-called double pancake module is formed. And after seven double pancake modules have been stacked, electrically connected and impregnated they form a winding pack – the core of the TF coil.
Tool machining the grooves of a radial plate
The successful completion of the series production is also a contractual achievement for F4E and its supplier. Eva Boter, F4E's Technical Officer managing this contract, recalls how it all started: "We needed to develop a series of smaller prototypes and then work our way to full scale components. Naturally, the production of the first series was more difficult because we had to develop processes and standards upon which the rest would follow. With time, we gained confidence and production accelerated. We had to be extremely precise with fabrication and measurements. Parallel to this, we needed to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate any possible modification."
Measuring with extreme precision the grooves of the radial plate
The successful cooperation between F4E and SIMIC is another aspect that Alessandro Bonito-Oliva highlights: “This achievement has been possible due to the trust we share and a clear sense of partnership. It demonstrates that smaller companies with a proven track record in their field, and the enthusiasm to grow, can play an important role in the biggest fusion experiment.”
Representatives of SIMIC and F4E standing in front of the vessel that will deliver the radial plate to ASG, the facility where the Europe is winding its TF coils
To learn more about the contribution of SIMIC to the ITER project view the clip
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