The addition of 0.1 wt % carbon nanoparticles significantly improved the optical absorption and flowability of gas-atomized copper powder. This facilitated selective laser melting (SLM) by reducing the required laser energy density to obtain 98% dense parts. Moreover, the carbon addition led to an in situ de-oxidation of the copper parts during the SLM process. The properties of the as-built copper parts were limited to a tensile strength of 125 MPa, a ductility of 3%, and an electrical conductivity of 22.7 × 106 S/m, despite the advantageous effect of carbon on the powder characteristics and SLM behavior. The modest mechanical properties were associated with the segregation of carbon nanoparticles and other impurities, such as phosphorus and oxygen along grain boundaries of epitaxially grown grains. Whereas, the low electrical conductivity was mainly attributed to the phosphorus impurity in solid-solution with copper.
Keywords: carbon-mixed-copper; copper; laser absorption; laser reflection; selective laser melting.