3D Systems & Newport News develop NiCu alloys

30 March 2021

3D Systems recently announced they are collaborating with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop Copper-Nickel (CuNi) and Nickel-Copper (NiCu) alloys for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. These new materials could allow Newport News Shipbuilding to additively manufacture parts that are traditionally cast – reducing lead times by up to 75% to improve supply chain efficiency. 

CuNi and NiCu are well-known alloys that are corrosion-resistant, which makes them ideal for marine applications. While parts produced with these metals possess high strength and toughness over a variety of temperatures, they must currently be produced using traditional casting methods. This requires very long lead times – sometimes in excess of 12 months – and multiple suppliers. If these alloys could be formulated for use with metal 3D printing technologies, lead times for some of these parts could be reduced to a fraction of the traditional procurement time.

Through this materials development effort, 3D Systems is working with Newport News Shipbuilding to select the alloy composition, design the process parameter experiments, and qualify parts which includes tensile and other material testing. With these new materials, Newport News Shipbuilding will be able to use their metal AM solution to produce replacement parts for castings as well as valves, housings, and brackets. With the successful use of these materials demonstrated, 3D Systems anticipates they will be added to its materials portfolio to address a breadth of applications where corrosion is a major concern such as oil and gas production and refining, and utility energy production.

3D Systems has contributed additive manufacturing expertise to the U.S. Navy for decades with its additive manufacturing solutions being used for everything from aircraft parts to submersible components. In 2018, 3D Systems and Newport News Shipbuilding entered a joint development agreement to qualify metal additive manufacturing technologies to build naval warships. Developing new marine alloys for Newport News’ unique applications needs will allow them to continue expanding the role AM plays in their manufacturing workflow. 

Courtesy of 3D Systems.