Moog Additive Adds Copper To Capabilities

Focusing on its goal of leading the industry with improving process knowledge and metallurgical understanding in metal additive manufacturing (metal AM), Moog is announcing the addition of copper to the growing list of chemistries available to its customers.

“There is a lot of interest in thermal stabilization projects for copper components due to copper’s excellent heat-transfer properties and electrical conductivity, says Paul Breeding. “Tie in all the advantages of metal AM in removing design constraints and expanding part configuration choices compared to conventional milling and turning, and copper becomes a very exciting choice for particular parts.”

Industries such as aerospace and automotive are breaking new ground with printing copper components. As recently as 2015, NASA announced its first 3D-printed full-scale copper part, a combustion chamber liner. “We are not trying to just make and test one part,” a project leader said. “We are developing a repeatable process that industry can adopt to manufacture engine parts with advanced designs. The ultimate goal is to make building rocket engines more affordable for everyone.”

Process development is an ongoing mission that Moog shares as well. “It’s a very interesting time in the industrial space with additive manufacturing,” Breeding says. “Team building, participating in standards discussions, and improving process controls are just some of our efforts aimed at bettering our engineering and metallurgical understanding of not only copper, but all the materials our customers want.”

While additive manufacturing on Moog’s direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) machines is a main process focus, Breeding notes the importance of the company’s post-processing capabilities and knowledge. “Copper can reflect laser energy, but simply pumping up the power can also create challenges,” he explains. “We’re printing test builds to hone in on the process parameters not only with metal AM, but also HIP (hot isostatic pressing) and heat-treating to meet if not exceed part requirements. The challenges with copper as well as other materials have us continually refining the process.”

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