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Desktop Metal adds copper to Studio System materials

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Desktop Metal launched copper for the Studio System, an office-friendly metal 3D printing system for low volume production. With its excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, copper is considered an ideal material for transferring heat or electricity and is used in virtually every electronic device made.

Copper is the latest addition to the Studio System materials library that also includes 4140 chromoly steel, H13 tool steel, 316L and 17-4 PH stainless steels. In addition to materials that are already available, Desktop Metal’s team of materials scientists are continuously working to develop new materials and processes to make 3D printing accessible to even broader industries and applications.

The copper material used with the Studio System is pure copper. Unlike laser-based processes, which often print chromium zirconium copper, the Studio System’s proprietary Bound Metal Deposition process is able to print pure copper, unlocking the full benefits of the material.

The metallurgy behind the Studio System is built upon the materials science and established powder supply chain of the metal injection molding (MIM) industry. When combined with Desktop Metal’s in-house expertise in material processing, binder compounds, and metal 3D printing, the results are high-quality metal parts with affordable material costs.

Early customer applications demonstrating the material’s benefits include:

Manufacturing: Electrode Holder

Electrode holders are used to hold electrodes in position during resistive nut welding. Printed in copper, the part features internal conformal cooling channels to improve temperature regulation. Electrodes are consumable and need to be replaced quickly and affordably when they wear out to keep the manufacturing line up and running. Using copper in combination with conformal cooling channels helps to pull heat off the electrode and the electrode holder to better regulate the temperature, leading to a better weld and a longer part lifetime.

Automotive: Motor Heat Sink

Heat exchangers are designed to help dissipate heat from an electric motor while the motor operates, keeping the motor at a more ideal operating temperature. The Studio System allows for the copper heat exchanger to conform to the motor shape, distributing heat more efficiently from the motor to the surrounding environment. The tall, thin fins in this motor heat sink are easily customized using 3D printing on the Studio System, whereas they are more challenging to manufacture via machining, due to chattering as the fins are cut.

Chemical Processing: Helical Heat Exchanger

Helical heat exchangers are used to cool a hot gas as it flows through a pipe. The Studio System allows for theheat exchanger to be printed with an internal helical channel that enables cooling fluid to flow through it. The complex geometry of that channel can only be made with additive manufacturing.

 

Electric Power Distribution: Bus Bar

Bus bars are used for local high current power distribution. As power is being transferred, the bus bar begins to get hot, internal cooling channels help to regulate the temperature, and copper’s excellent thermal conductivity value ensures that heat is efficiently transferred from the bus bar to the coolant. The bus bar’s design features complex cooling channels running through its core. Using the Studio System, the bus bar can easily be printed as a single copper part complete with internal cooling features. Using traditional methods, the channels would require a multi-part assembly to create the final part.

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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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