First commercially available CuNi alloy for laser powder bed fusion

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3D Systems introduces CuNi30, a corrosion-resistant copper-nickel alloy for use with its DMP Flex 350 metal 3D printer.

This material is the result of the company’s collaboration with HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop materials and process parameters for laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing.

The company’s deep expertise in the field facilitated the development of CuNi30 and enables Newport News Shipbuilding to use additive manufacturing in place of its traditional casting technologies.

Direct-to-metal printing parts using CuNi30 to meet Newport News Shipbuilding’s low-volume, high-diversity material needs can improve supply chain efficiencies – with a predicted 75% reduction in lead times as well than reduced inventory costs.

Copper-nickel alloys are widely used in saltwater, petroleum, and acidic environments due to the material’s excellent corrosion resistance and antimicrobial and anti-algae properties that provide resistance to algae growth during prolonged exposure to water.

CuNi30 is often used to make pipe fittings and valves for the marine (eg, shipbuilding and repair), offshore oil and gas, and chemical and nuclear industries. These alloys also have stable mechanical, physical and thermal properties (from 400°C to -270°C) which make them suitable for cryogenic applications.

CuNi alloys are historically difficult to cast, often adding costly rework and re-inspection cycles to meet quality standards. This leads to very long delivery times and a limited number of competent and willing suppliers who can support the production of quality material.

HII recognized the potential to realize significant benefits if the DMP material, hardware and process could be qualified for their production components, and partnered with 3D Systems to make this a reality.

“3D Systems has established a reputation as a trusted partner for advanced R&D and commercialization of new additive manufacturing materials and applications,” said Dr. Michael Shepard, Vice President, Aerospace and Defense Segment, 3D Systems.

“We have a decades-long relationship with the United States Navy, which has helped drive innovation for a variety of applications, including aircraft parts and submersible components. Our latest project with Newport News Shipbuilding produced a copper-nickel alloy specifically designed for AM that results in better part density and better mechanical properties compared to traditional casting. We look forward to seeing how direct-to-metal printing and CuNi30 can accelerate Newport News Shipbuilding’s workflows and innovation pipeline.

“We are delighted to announce the completion of a significant milestone in the development of a CuNi alloy with 3D Systems,” said Dave Bolcar, vice president of engineering and design for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of HII.

“Earlier this year, we completed a multi-year effort with 3D Systems related to the research and development of a corrosion performance design guide for direct-to-metal printing of a nickel-based alloy. We look forward to continuing to expand our parameter development efforts with 3D Systems to other alloys of interest to our industry. These developments allow us to further expand the use of additive manufacturing in our platforms in a way that provides the customer with positive benefits in quality, schedule and performance.

Learn more about CuNi30 here.

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