Copper Printing Gets Enhanced for Aerospace Applications

Linde and the Ariane Group are pioneering improvements in 3D printing copper alloys for rocket combustion chambers. Their collaboration centers on refining the additive manufacturing process, leveraging Linde’s gas mixture, ADDvance Laser230, and oxygen control system, ADDvance O2 precision. This partnership addresses the challenges inherent in copper’s reflective properties, which hinder efficient laser melting due to reflectivity and potential overheating.

Copper Printing Gets Enhanced for Aerospace Applications
Copper printed rocket combustion chamber and nozzle. (Image Credit: Ariane Group)

Copper’s high thermal conductivity makes it ideal for aerospace components, but copper’s reflectiveness to laser beams used in powder bed fusion has necessitated the use of higher laser intensities, raising concerns over part overheating and oxidation. Linde’s ADDvance Laser230, a gas mixture designed for laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) processes, mitigates these issues by reducing fumes and spatter. It also optimizes cycle times, thus enhancing the reliability of the printing process and reducing costs per part.

The ADDvance O2 precision system further refines the process by maintaining oxygen levels in the print chamber to a minimal 10ppm, preventing oxidation and overheating. This allows for continuous printing without waiting for layers to cool and also enables the reuse of non-oxidized powder, further lowering material costs.

The future may see gas-mixing technologies enabling more efficient production of high-performance aerospace components at reduced costs, potentially transforming the industry’s approach to manufacturing critical engine parts.

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