Editor’s Pick: Copper-nickel alloy for corrosive environments

CuNi30 enables additive manufacturing of traditionally cast parts.

CuNi30 enables additive manufacturing of traditionally cast parts.

 Copper-nickel alloys are valued for use in extreme environments including oil & gas, shipbuilding, chemical, and nuclear. The alloy was developed in collaboration with HHI Newport News Shipbuilding. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

3D Systems debuts a copper-nickel alloy for laser bed powder fusion 3D printing. CuNi30 enables additive manufacturing of traditionally cast parts. The company says CuNi30 offers excellent corrosion resistance. 

Copper-nickel alloys are used extensively in extreme environments including salt water, petroleum and acidic environments. CuNi30 is often used to manufacture pipe fittings and valves for marine construction, offshore oil and gas, and various uses in chemical and nuclear industries. Copper-nickel alloys also possess stable mechanical, physical and thermal properties. The new alloy for 3D printing is also suitable for cryogenic applications, in environments that vary from 400°C down to -270°C.

3D Systems worked closely with HHI Newport News Shipbuilding to develop the new alloy, which will first be deployed for use on the 3D Systems DMP Flex 350 powder bed fusion printer. The two companies anticipate the use of CuNi30 in Newport News Shipbuilding’s low-volume, high-mix hardware requirements will improve supply chain efficiency, with an anticipated 75% reduction in lead times and lower inventory costs. 

The company says CuNi alloys are historically difficult to cast, which can cause additional rework and constant inspection to meet quality standards. As a result, only a few suppliers work in the material on a regular basis. It was this challenging aspect of CuNi alloys that led 3D Systems and HHI to collaborate on a way to create copper-nickel parts using metal 3D printing. 

“We look forward to seeing how direct metal printing and CuNi30 will be able to accelerate Newport News Shipbuilding’s production workflows and its innovation pipeline,” says Dr. Michael Shepard, vice president, aerospace & defense segment, 3D Systems. ”Our latest project with Newport News Shipbuilding yielded a copper-nickel alloy specifically designed for AM that results in better part density and mechanical properties as compared to traditional casting.“

3D Systems anticipates CuNi30 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2022. For more information visit https://www.3dsystems.com/press-releases/3d-systems-announces-first-market-cuni-cuni30-alloy-laser-powder-bed-fusion

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website. 

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