Safina adds copper alloy powders to AM portfolio

March 8, 2021

Safina has developed its own master alloys to meet the standards for AM production (Courtesy Safina)

Safina, Vestec, Czech Republic, has recently added new gas atomised powders from ternary copper-based alloys to its portfolio, meeting the needs of high-end applications like the combustion chambers in rocket engines or heat sinks in nuclear fusion reactors.

While pure copper has good thermal conductivity, its strength, especially at higher temperatures, falls short. With the introduction of some other elements like NB, Cr, Ag or Zr, there is an improvement in that strength while still preserving the high thermal conductivity at temperatures around 700ºK. Generally, Cr and Ag nano precipitates offer higher strength, while Zr acts as a grain refiner, blocking coalescences of nano precipitates, meaning precipitates have to be as small as possible to maintain high mechanical properties.

SEM of the powder particles (Courtesy Safina)

Alloys like CuCr1Zr are common, widely available as rolled semi-finished products (rods, plates and sheets). However, Safina found that it had to overcome several obstacles to produce higher quality powder, as the quality of raw material was found to be insufficient for AM production, either Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) or Cold Spraying.

To ensure high, replicable quality of production powders, Safina developed its own high-purity master alloys, as even several tens of ppm impurities are detrimental and can cause Intermediate Temperature Embrittlement (ITE). The most important elements to watch are O2, H, Bi, Sn, Sb, Pb, Te, Se, P and Fe.

Microstructure of heat treated CuAg3Zr produced by Cold Gas Spray (Courtesy Safina)

Safina has also altered the entire process, from melt atomisation to packing, in order to prevent oxygen contamination and reach optimal particle size distribution. This is especially important for its copper alloys, as copper powder is very sensitive to oxygen exposure and rapid oxidisation can influence its mechanical properties, meaning a proper handling procedure is vital at both sides of the supply chain.

In the latest issue of PM Review…

Download PDF

Extensive Powder Metallurgy industry news coverage, and the following exclusive deep-dive articles and reports:

  • “Scrap is the new gold” and other hardmetal and hard materials insights from Euro PM2023 Congress, Lisbon
  • IperionX: A Powder Metallurgy route to lower-cost recycled titanium plate, billet, bar and preforms with reduced CO2 emissions
  • A review of the sintering of iron-copper-carbon alloys for structural Powder Metallurgy applications

The latest news from the world of metal powders, delivered to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of PM Review, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Join our community

Discover our magazine archive…

The free-to-access PM Review magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of Powder Metallurgy from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading PM part manufacturers, metal powder manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.


Browse the archive


Looking for PM production equipment, metal powders, R&D support and more?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our
advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of PM Review magazine.

  • Powders & materials
  • Powder process, classification & analysis
  • PM products
  • Atomisers & powder production technology
  • Compaction presses, tooling & ancillaries
  • Sintering equipment & ancillaries
  • Post-processing
  • Consulting & toll sintering
View online
Share via
Copy link