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Call it large meets small. Scientists and engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently turned to Protolabs’ digital manufacturing services to rapidly produce highly precise parts and components for the lab’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), which houses the largest laser facility in the world.
The NIF is the “large” in this story. How big? Think sportsstadium size—three football fields could fit inside. And, it’s 10 stories high. The “small” of the story is the target that is used for aiming NIF’s laser—it is about the size of a pencil eraser.
NIF researchers wanted to reduce the time and cost of machining new tools and custom components for that laser target, and at the same time, needed to manufacture extremely tiny parts
for the target piece. These custom parts required small feature sizes, challenging geometries, and the precision accuracy required for aiming a laser beam. Those NIF researchers would discover that Protolabs could meet all of these needs.