Fracture Characteristics and Heat Treatment of Laser Powder Bed Fusion Additively Manufactured GRCop-84 Copper
Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) of Glenn Research Copper 84 (GRCop-84), a Cr2Nb (8 at. % Cr, 4 at. % Nb) precipitation hardened alloy, produces a fully dense high conductivity alloy with a yield strength of 500 MPa and ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of 740 MPa, superior to other competing copper alloys, and 20% elongation at fracture for material stressed perpendicular to the build direction. The high thermal stability of the Cr2Nb precipitate in the copper matrix reduces coarsening and maintains a 300 MPa yield, 520 MPa UTS and 26% elongation after a 900°C, 5-hour heat treatment, while a 3h 450°C heat treatment increases yield to 810 MPa, UTS to 970 MPa with 9% elongation at fracture, for samples stressed perpendicular to the build direction. Tensile strength anisotropy based on print direction was attributed to internal stress and columnar grain formation. Void nucleation during tensile fracture was initiated by brittle fracture of precipitate particles within the copper matrix. Fracture cusps contain matching precipitate fragment geometry on opposing sides located near the cusp center in at least 80% of fracture cusps. An optimal precipitate size of 100 nm is predicted for maximum tensile strength from precipitates on fracture surfaces, while tensile testing with varying heat treatments shows maximum strength with 100 nm and smaller precipitates. Cr2Nb precipitates are shown to transition between polycrystalline and monocrystalline structures at high temperature.