Niobium is one of the rarest metals on Earth, and it has a number of unique properties that make it an ideal choice for aerospace applications. Among its many desirable qualities, niobium has the ability to retain strength over a wide temperature range, and it can withstand extreme temperatures without cracking or deforming .
c 103 niobium Alloy (NbHf10Ti1Zr0.7)
c 103 niobium is an incredibly high-performance alloy consisting of Niobium, Hafnium, and Titanium. It was first manufactured in 1965 for use in the nozzle extended segment of the Apollo manned lunar command module rocket engine. This niobium-hafnium-titanium alloy has outstanding formability, machinability, and is weldable using Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding techniques. It also has very good corrosion resistance and is able to withstand high temperatures without cracking or deforming .
Traditionally, the production of this important space material requires significant effort to produce wrought products that meet stringent requirements for a variety of operating environments. These requirements include extremely sensitive mechanical properties, difficult machining and forming, high buy-to-fly ratios, and expensive raw materials. However, advances in laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing and welding metallurgy have now made it possible to produce these critical parts with significantly improved ease and reduced cost.