C103 Niobium Alloys for Space Applications

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In space engineering fabrication, niobium is an excellent material for rocket thruster nozzles and other components that must operate at high temperatures. It can also withstand cryogenic conditions, vibrations and other stressors. It has been used in space engineering for decades, with some of the most significant applications being within the Apollo Lunar Command Module.

One particular niobium alloy, C-103, is commonly utilized in these kinds of applications because of its superior strength over a large range of temperatures. It is comprised of 89% niobium, 10% hafnium and 1% titanium (Nb-10Hf-1Ti wt%) and is considered to be an intermediate-strength refractory metal.

Its ductility, formability and machinability allow it to be worked into complex shapes. It is readily weldable using tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding methods. This unique alloy is highly sensitive to the presence of oxygen in its environment, however. As little as 1000 ppm of oxygen can decrease yield strength from 350 to 300 MPa and reduce total elongation form 45% to 30%.

Using the world’s only microwave plasma production system, 6K Additive offers C103 niobium hafnium alloy spherical powders for customers with demanding aerospace or hypersonic applications. The powders are carefully packaged and labeled externally to ensure efficient identification of the product before shipping. They are available in fine (15-53 um) and coarse (53-180 um) particle sizes.

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