In-situ synthesis via laser metal deposition of a lean Cu–3.4Cr–0.6Nb (at%) conductive alloy hardened by Cr nano-scale precipitates and by Laves phase micro-particles

Kini, A.R. and Maischner, D. and Weisheit, A. and Ponge, D. and Gault, B. and Jägle, E.A. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 197 Pages: 330-340
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2020.07.035
Published: 2020

Conductive and yet strong copper alloys are essential materials in highly mechanically loaded electrical devices. We demonstrate a novel in-situ synthesis approach via laser metal deposition (LMD) in a lean copper alloy, Cu–3.4Cr–0.6Nb (at%). Strengthening in the lean alloy comes from chromium nano-scale precipitates formed in-situ (4 nm diameter; number density 8 × 1023 m−3) and from Laves phase particles (< 1 µm diameter; 2.2 vol%), dispersed across the microstructure. This dual dispersion, in a nearly pure copper matrix, is achieved through a suited combination of chromium alloying and cooling rate during LMD synthesis. The as-synthesized alloy has a conductivity of 68% IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard) and a Vickers hardness of 146, at room temperature. The latter is 11% above the value reported for the strongest lean reference ternary alloy Cu–8Cr–4Nb (at%). The in-situ synthesis approach averts any heat treatment step, which has been an essential step previously in conventional manufacturing, for realizing the property combination in lean Cu–Cr based system. © 2020

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