3D Systems announces CuNi30 alloy for laser powder bed fusion

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

This material resulted from 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 companies’ deep domain expertise facilitated the development of CuNi30 and is allowing Newport News Shipbuilding to use additive manufacturing in place of its traditional casting technologies. The two expect this to improve supply chain efficiency, with an anticipated 75% reduction in lead times as well as lowered inventory costs.

Copper-nickel alloys are commonly used in salt water, petroleum and acidic environments due to the material’s corrosion resistance. It is also anti-microbial and has anti-algae properties that enable resistance to algae growth during extended exposure to water.

CuNi30 is often used in additive manufacturing to create pipe fitting and valves for the marine industry, offshore oil and gas, and chemical and nuclear industries. The alloy possesses stable mechanical, physical and thermal properties, from 400 degrees Celsius down to -270 degrees Celsius. 

HII states that it recognised the potential to realise significant benefits if the DMP hardware, material and process could be qualified for the production components, and partnered with 3D Systems to make it a reality.

“3D Systems has earned a reputation as a trusted partner for advanced R&D and commercialisation of novel additive manufacturing materials and applications,” said Dr. Michael Shepard, Vice President, Aerospace and Defense Segment, 3D Systems. “We’ve had a decades-long relationship with the U.S. Navy which has helped drive innovation for a variety of applications including aircraft parts and submersible opponents.”

“We’re excited to announce the completion of a significant milestone in the development of a CuNi alloy with 3D Systems,” added 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 Metal Printing of a nickel-based alloy.”

Bolcar continued: “We’re looking forward to continuing to expand our parameter development efforts with 3D Systems into other alloys of interest to our industry. These developments allow us to further expand the use of additive manufacturing into our platforms in ways that provide positive quality, schedule, and performance benefits to the customer.”

3D Systems intends to add CuNi30 to its materials portfolio to enable the direct metal 3D printing of corrosion-resistant parts for additional industries. The material is anticipated for general availability in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

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