BLT, Xi’an, China, has recently showcased some of the successful applications it has achieved in copper on its Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) machines. Copper provides excellent thermal and electrical conductivity but can be difficult to manufacture using laser-based processes due to its high reflectivity. To overcome this issue, BLT developed its own PBF-LB machines capable of additively manufacturing copper, including the flagship BLT-S310/S320, BLT-S210, BLT-A320 and BLT-S400.
The BLT-S310/S320 features a 250 x 250 x 400 mm build area, dual lasers, and can achieve a maximum build speed of 50 cm3/h. The machine can additively manufacture copper, titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, super alloys, and others. The density of parts manufactured on this machine is said to be nearly 100%, with a surface roughness of Ra6.3 being possible, thus meeting the requirements of the aerospace, medical, automotive, and electronics sectors, amongst others. Using this machine, the company has produced copper exhaust nozzles (210 x 295 mm) and copper antennae (100 x 100 x 130 mm).
The BLT-S210 is a dedicated machine for scientific research, used mainly in precision forming and the development of/experimentation with materials. In 2021, the BLT-S210 was used to manufacture a Cu-Cr-Zr high-frequency induction coil. Typically, these are made of hollow copper tube wound in a spiral shape. BLT reported that it had developed a PBF-LB process suitable for Cu-Cr-Zr, enabling the induction coil to be additively manufactured with an internal cavity and thin-walled ring structure suitable for the application.
The BLT-A320 is well suited for mould applications, while the BLT-S400 is mainly used by industrial customers to achieve efficient, low-cost serial production of copper parts.