LLNL and KCNSC team up to accelerate design-to-deployment with new polymer production enclave

polymerEnclaveGroup (Download Image)

Kansas City National Security Campus and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory representatives recently met to discuss the progress of the polymer production enclave.

A polymer production enclave, in partnership with the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), is on budget and on schedule to bring modern technology into the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

The enclave will enable rapid development of design and production processes of polymer parts for modernization programs. This enclave is part of LLNL’s Weapons and Complex Integration (WCI) strategic vision to shorten the time frame from requirements to production for future systems.

Bob Maxwell, WCI production development program leader who is helping to oversee the project, said the polymer production enclave will have a powerful impact on the timelines for introducing new materials and processes into the stockpile.

“The commitment to collaboration and co-develop amongst the massively talented cross site team is just as, if not more, critical as the technological advancements we are working to insert to realize this goal,” Maxwell said.

In May 2020, WCI started work to build the enclave at LLNL. A LLNL team pivoted construction on Bldg. 225 in real-time from a building to house joining and vapor deposition capabilities to one needed to support the polymer production mission. Building occupancy took place in April with all requirements met or exceeded, allowing the program and KCNSC to begin work this summer to support the W80-4 LEP, W87-1 Mod and future polymer work. Installation of programmatic equipment will be complete by Sept. 30, and fully operational by January 2022. Bldg. 225 development operations are scheduled to start in October 2022. 

bldg. 225
The Bldg. 225 Polymer Production Enclave achieved Beneficial Occupancy April 29, 2021. Inset: Aerial picture taken June 9, 2020.

Maxwell said while Bldg. 225 moves to come online, KCNSC and LLNL continue to constructively collaborate to realize insertion opportunities for key polymer components for the W80-4 and W87-1.

“The polymer enclave is not just a building at LLNL but highly novel approach to quicker product realization through close collaboration and, as much as possible, identical equipment and processes,” said Jessica Bailey, KCNSC’s director of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. “The KCNSC is excited to work with LLNL to advance both technology and partnership.”

The project began in 2019 when KCNSC and LLNL proposed performing design and production development in parallel to shorten the schedule. A mutual agreement was created to have identical equipment, rotate and exchange staff to deepen collaboration and mutual understanding and create an optimized process to meet design agency (DA) design and production agency (PA) requirements.

The polymer enclave has multiple goals including adding capacity to reduce schedule risk for the W80-4 and the W87-1. The enclave will assist in a rapid, collaborative product realization where DA/PA partnerships will lead to spiral development process and help improve tech transfer. The enclave also will serve as a test bed for many satellite innovations.