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Copper 3D printing now a reality for Markforged

19 Mar 2020

Metal 3D printing is fast becoming a popular manufacturing tool for industries. The versatility of 3D printers, coupled with the capability to print metal parts, sees more companies leveraging its benefits.

Markforged has developed a 3D printer that can print models with copper. Copper is a soft material with a high thermal conductivity that makes it ideal for many activities and products. However, this conductivity can also make it difficult to 3D print objects using the traditional laser sintering process. Copper refracts light and also the energy that is needed for the metal to mould.

The new Markforged Metal X system is made to print pure copper, geometrically complex parts. Unlike traditional 3D metal printers, this involves copper powder being encapsulated into a filament and then extruded, layer by layer, to build up the part. The filament melts, forming a 3D model. Once complete, the model is put into a wash station where the binding agent is rinsed away and the part is then place into a sintering oven where the copper solidifies into the final part.

Advantages of using copper for 3D printing include:

  • harnessing thermal and electrical conductivity
  • reduced supply costs
  • faster lead times
  • improved supply chain efficiency.

Additive copper manufacturing can benefit many industries. One example is the automotive industry where copper is commonly used. With 3D printing, copper parts can be manufactured faster than traditional parts, improving factory operation times and capacity. This can reduce costs from traditional manufacturing methods. 3D-printed copper parts can also increase the business’s profits due to faster lead times and creating in-house spot-weld shanks. 3D printing also provides opportunities for new welding shank designs that weren’t possible before.

Aerospace is another industry where 3D-printed copper parts are being used. Launcher, an engineering organisation for aerospace products, built the combustion chamber for its E-2 rocket using 3D printed copper alloy parts.[1] This demonstrates the reliability and attractiveness of copper 3D printing.

To find out how the Markforged Metal X 3D printer and copper manufacturing can assist your business, contact Konica Minolta today.

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