Pantex’s Tek F. is seen working on the SLM 280 Metal 3D printer
In the past few years, additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3-dimensional printing, has shown record growth with more than $18 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to Fortune Business Insights. Major industries, including automotive, construction, health, along with sites within the federal government, are incorporating 3D applications.
AM is unique in the fact it creates a part by adding material onto a surface instead of the more conventional method of subtractive manufacturing, where the process begins with a larger piece of material and the “subtracts” what is not needed to complete the final part.
There are a wide variety of methods and materials on the open market available for 3D printing. The most common process is fused deposition modeling, which heats a single plastic filament and builds the final item up a layer at a time. Digital light processing uses liquid resin that cures using ultraviolet light. Other printing methods include selective laser sintering, which melts a layer of powdered material with a high-powered laser; selective laser melting, which is specifically for metal printing capabilities; and poly jet printing for polymers only. CNS is currently working with vendors to add different on-site printing methods, since off-the-shelf printers do not meet its stringent requirements.
“Additive manufacturing impacts mission success by being able to create parts that would be very difficult to machine with an accelerated timeline,” said Pantex Engineer Wright S.. “For mission deliverables we have the capability to design and produce parts with greater flexibility than traditional manufacturing.”
At Pantex, 3D printing is primarily used to deliver mission-critical parts for the firing site, internally within the high explosives manufacturing group, as well as completing special requests site-wide. But there is a learning curve.
“Most of this difficulty can be attributed to how new to industrial use additive manufacturing is, especially when compared to subtractive manufacturing. Our second hurdle is encouraging a growth mindset. More groups are starting to add small scale 3D printers into their work areas for sample printing. After that, it will be encouraging the workforce to adapt to and utilize 3D printing wherever possible in our mission-critical production environment,” said Wright.
Maybe it’s her infectious laugh, her kind and helping spirit, or her dedication to producing quality work for more than a decade, but Pantexan Chantal J. is a popular face inside and outside the office.
Chantal is one of the hard-working engineers at the plant who, for more than a decade, has worked to make sure the mission moves smoothly and safely. She got her foot in the door while in college and seeking an internship to gain experience.
“I found out about Pantex through a friend and applied for a co-op position,” she said. “During the co-op, I found that I loved Amarillo and loved working for Pantex and wanted to stay.”
That was in 2011, and shortly after that she was hired as an engineer. Nearly a decade later, she says she loves the challenge of her work.
Her work has been recognized with various excellence awards over the years.
If she’s not at work, one of the most common places to find Chantal is at her many volunteering pursuits.
She has supported the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering since 2011 and is currently the co-coordinator of the local chapter. The group works to support students in underrepresented groups and inspire them to explore engineering. Each year, the chapter hosts egg drop, catapult, and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) competitions and participates in community activities like the EPIC Success career fair and Pantex’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering.
She also serves as vice president and coordinates events for her sorority and volunteers at the High Plains Food Bank and with the Northside Toy Drive.
Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
I always envisioned myself doing something related to architecture or STEM but never envisioned myself working at a one-of-a-kind government facility like Pantex. I also never envisioned myself getting a master’s of fire protection engineering before working at Pantex.
Pantex opened doors by helping me jump-start my career in architectural engineering and helped me further my education with their reimbursement program. I’ve been able to utilize everything I’ve learned from Day 1 and strengthen my skills in design.
Never would I have imaged that I would be doing the work that I’m doing now, while working with such great people.
What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?
My favorite aspect about my work environment is being able to meet and work with new people and learn about the different groups on-site. Working with different groups helps me realize that we all play a big role in helping with the mission, no matter the size of the project.
What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
I believe “Safety, Security, Zero Defects” and “Deliver as Promised” all play a part in design.
What is one thing your coworkers would be surprised to know about you?
My coworkers sometimes get surprised when they find out I have a first degree black belt in tae kwon do and a yellow belt in jujitsu.
What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
One of my favorite outside-of-work activities is hanging out with my pup. She’s always by my side and always keeping me going.
Construction continues day and night on the High Explosives Science and Engineering (HESE) facility.
Under a beautiful West Texas starry sky, crews recently placed the first of three 2-foot-thick concrete mat slabs at the High Explosives Science and Engineering (HESE) project’s HE Lab Building. The milestone required 10 concrete trucks to make more than 86 trips to the site.
“In my 16 years at the plant, I have never placed this much concrete,” Project Manager Chris Howard said about the 869 cubic yards of concrete.
The effort was originally planned for a May evening to take advantage of cooler night weather but was delayed three weeks due to historic Texas Panhandle rainfall. When the weather dried up, the steadfast construction support cast of Security, Safety, Construction Management, Quality, and Engineering pulled an all-nighter with design engineering firm Burns & McDonnell and subcontractor Hensel Phelps.
S. Kemp, subcontract technical representative, said great attitudes and participative decision-making made this placement a success, and he’s excited for the future.
“We continue to gain momentum and mesh together as a unit,” he said.
The team compiled lessons learned to apply to future concrete placements, as the project is expected to use more than 11,751 cubic yards of concrete.
When complete, the HESE will replace 15 obsolete facilities at Pantex, the average age of which is 68 years old. It will support the Pantex HE Center of Excellence for Manufacturing mission for NNSA by providing laboratory space, classified and unclassified office and meeting areas, and a shower and change-out area for HE Operations personnel all in closer proximity to HE manufacturing operations.
Take 5 minutes to learn about Russell Daniel, Project Management senior director at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
Russell Daniel, senior director for Pantex Project Management, said the people are what he missed most about the Texas Panhandle.
“After 15 different moves, and no matter where I went – I can’t find a better group of people than those in the Panhandle,” Daniel said.
The Tulia, Texas, native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He amassed a wealth of experience from across the Department of Energy on projects in Hanford, Washington, and at the Savannah River Site. He also spent time at Pantex leading Engineering and Facility and Design Engineering in the early 2000s.
Now back at Pantex for a second time, Daniel says leading with a focus on the people is driving mission success.
“From my time in the Marine Corps and in positions across the DOE complex, I know it is critical for leaders to support their teams and allow them to make decisions and take actions to execute the work,” Daniel said.
He and the Project Management team are transforming the landscape of the Pantex site through a multimillion-dollar portfolio of new construction and recapitalization projects.
How does patriotism factor into your life? Did your level of patriotism change after working at Pantex?
Patriotism and the need to do what was required for my country was always there. Coming to Pantex the first time gave me a chance to see how the site supports the overall national security mission. Returning to Pantex is truly the ability to get back to what are we doing to protect the United States and provide overall security that ties back to the early days I had in the military.
What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
For the last seven years, I have run the chains for the U.S. Navy home football games including the Army-Navy game every other year. My Naval Academy roommate was part of the chain gang when I moved to Virginia, and he asked me to join the chain gang. It’s a neat spot to watch the game, and I only had one major mistake on national TV.
Pantex was recently honored with the Business and Leadership Council Engagement Award from Amarillo College (AC). This award was in recognition of Pantex’s diligent efforts over the past year to support a wide range of AC's Business and Leadership Councils (BLC), including manufacturing, computer information systems, engineering and physics, and chemistry.
“We are thrilled to honor Pantex with the prestigious Business and Leadership Council Engagement Award,” said Ryan Francis, Amarillo College Workforce Innovation Network coordinator. “This esteemed recognition is a testament to Pantex's active participation and unwavering commitment to engagement, as evidenced through their consistent attendance, outstanding representation at various BLCs, in addition to their valuable class visits.”
Amarillo College is ranked as the #1 college in the nation by the Aspen Institute, is a significant supplier of talent at Pantex, and the leader in university transfers for the Panhandle.
“BLCs present a vital opportunity for Pantex leadership to provide guidance and feedback to AC's programs and curriculum so that they are meeting industry needs,” said Zuleyma Carruba-Rogel, Pantex Educational Partnerships & Talent Pipeline Development recruiter.
Over the past year, Pantex has increased collaboration with AC through these BLCs to help AC design beneficial programs for students that prepare students to fill real needs at Pantex, other Nuclear Security Enterprise sites, and similar industries. Key Pantex organizations that supported the program include Operations, Mission Engineering, Infrastructure, High Explosives, and Information Solutions and Services.
“AC recognized our efforts to support and influence their programs, in addition to a range of info sessions, career fair support, classroom visits, and program events such as women in manufacturing, and new student orientation,” said Carruba-Rogel. “We certainly appreciate this recognition and look forward to our continued partnership and support.”