Surface chemical analysis of copper powder used in additive manufacturing
Journal article, 2020

Additive manufacturing (AM) has during years gained significant interest owing to its endless component design possibilities. One of the most popular AM techniques is laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), which selectively melts metal powder layer-by-layer in a chamber with protective argon atmosphere. This technique is attractive for realizing Cu-based products in which the high electrical conductivity of Cu is combined with component design possibilities. The successful use of Cu powder not only poses challenges owing to the high reflectivity and thermal conductivity of Cu but also involves the important concern of controlling the powder surface chemistry since the powder surface constitutes the main source of oxygen. It is of crucial importance to control the oxygen level in order to maintain good electrical conductivity and brazing ability of the AM-fabricated Cu-part. In LPBF, fine spherical powder with size of 10-60 mu m is used, providing significant specific surface area, and this powder is also usually recycled several times, and hence, the role of powder surface chemistry is evident. Two kinds of copper powder with purities 99.70 and 99.95 wt% were analysed in both virgin and in used conditions after numerous printing cycles using LPBF. The powder was analysed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A clear difference between the two powder grades in terms of surface chemistry was observed. The oxide thickness and bulk oxygen content increased for both powder grades after recycling. The surface oxides under different conditions are identified and the effect of powder purity on the oxide formed is discussed.

copper powder

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)

surface chemistry

additive manufacturing (AM)

copper oxide


Eric Bojestig

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Materials and manufacture

Yu Cao

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Materials and manufacture

Lars Nyborg

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Materials and manufacture

Surface and Interface Analysis

0142-2421 (ISSN) 1096-9918 (eISSN)

Vol. 52 12 1104-1110

Subject Categories


Manufacturing, Surface and Joining Technology

Materials Chemistry



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3/9/2021 1