- Jack Fanning
Introducing 3D Printed Copper
Kearney Machinery and Markforged are extremely excited to introduce our newest material for the Metal X—Copper. For the first time ever, it’s now incredibly simple to 3D print pure copper. With the Markforged Metal X system, you can now easily manufacture complex parts with high electrical and thermal conductivity that were previously expensive, time-consuming, or impossible to make. Copper joins the already available Metal X materials — 17-4PH Stainless Steel, Inconel 625, H13 Tool Steel, D2 Tool Steel, and A2 Tool Steel.
What is Markforged Copper?
Markforged Copper is greater than 99.8% pure copper with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity and high ductility. Markforged Copper can be used where thermal or electrical conductivity is required — and traditional manufacturing processes are too expensive or fall short. Alternatively, customers who work with aluminum over copper because of its processing challenges can now take advantage of easily 3D printing a copper part, and benefit from the material’s higher thermal and electrical conductivity.
Copper is our first metal material that is valued for thermal and electrical properties, marking an exciting time at Markforged. Check out our data sheet to get a more in-depth look at the electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties.
Copper on the Metal X System
Copper parts coming out of the Markforged Sinter-2
There are several reasons why we’re excited about the addition of Markforged Copper:
One Platform Printing with Markforged Copper involves the same simple process Markforged customers are used to with our existing metal materials on the Metal X System. No hardware changes are needed to start printing copper. Markforged customers order a spool, choose ‘Copper’ in the material drop-down menu in our cloud-based slicing software Eiger, and begin printing right away. Switching materials on the Metal X takes about 10 minutes. With the addition of Markforged Copper, we are excited that customers can now make electrical and heat transfer components on the same printer as our stainless steel, nickel super alloy, and tool steels. In our labs, we are working on additional materials to further expand the line up.
Easy to Print The Metal X leverages a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) processing method that makes printing copper simple for the first time. The process starts with metal powder, captured in a plastic binder (which makes it safe to handle filament on a spool), and then forms it into the part shape one layer at a time. After printing, users wash the part to debind the wax, and then load the part in a furnace which thermally removes the remaining binder and then sinters the powder into the final fully metal part. This process overcomes the traditional challenges of 3D printing copper with directed energy systems (such as DMLS) due to copper’s high thermal conductivity.
Expanded Applications Markforged Copper offers Metal X customers the ability to print parts that require thermal and electrical conductivity. This breaks open a new set of applications for manufacturers across industries.
A 3D printed Copper weld shank
From heat sinks and bus bars, to custom welding shanks, Markforged customers are now able to reinvent the way they manufacture copper components. Customers are even experimenting with printing parts with complex internal cooling channels. Eliminate brazed or welded assemblies to reduce cost, increase consistency, and get rid of weak points. Here are some of the other ways you can use Markforged Copper:
Low-volume Production Parts: Print in copper for low-volume production parts when the cost of tooling would be too high and the geometries are complex. Examples include bus bars and heat sinks. Tooling: Users have already started seeing great results in printing tooling in copper. A great example would be spot welding arms, which require high electrical conductivity. Functional Prototypes: Users can test out ideas in Markforged Copper before investing in production tooling.
Copper is now available for Markforged customers around the world. We’re really looking forward to seeing what our customers print with Markforged Copper. Markforged 3D printing platform is transforming manufacturing today— so what are you waiting for?
Originally written by Chris Hoffman and published on Markforged.com