Production of Copper Powder by Atomization

Water atomization of copper--that is, the disintegration of a molten stream of high-quality copper with high-pressure water jets--produces copper powders of compacting-grade quality. The resulting dried powder then may be subjected to an elevated-temperature treatment that further modifies its characteristics and engineering properties.

Nearly spherical powders result from the atomization of liquid copper with inert gas or air. These powders are used in copper flake production and other specialty applications. Spherically shaped copper powders have insufficient green strength for use in conventional P/M. To render them compactible, their particle shape and morphology may be changed by deformation and/or oxidation and reduction, as described in the section "Production of Copper Powder by the Reduction of Copper Oxide" in this article. Particle shapes of gas- and water-atomized copper powder are shown in Fig. 18. The following section discusses details specific to the water atomization of copper and subsequent processing. For more information, see the article "Atomization" in this Volume.

Fig. 18 Scanning electron micrographs of gas- and water-atomized copper powders. (a) Nitrogen atomized. (b) Water atomized, apparent density of 3.04 g/cm3. (c) Water atomized, apparent density of 4.60 g/cm3
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