Digital Metal, a pioneer in high-precision metal binder jetting systems for industrial use has added a pure copper material, named DM Cu, to a growing material offering. The excellent thermal and electrical conductivity properties of pure copper make it ideal for a wide range of applications. Good conductivity, or heat transfer, is for example a requirement in electronics, heat exchangers, heat sinks and engine parts. 3D printing of components in copper also offers unprecedented freedom, enabling design for optimal functionality with very few restrictions. In addition, copper is known for its antibacterial properties.
A key benefit for Digital Metal’s customers is that printing with 99.9% pure copper brings out the best of the material compared to copper alloys commonly used in laser-based systems.
“Printing with pure copper using Digital Metal’s binder jetting technology is one of the most anticipated material launches ever, and totally new within binder jetting. Copper has been high up on our customers’ wish list and timing is perfect with the demand for copper applications soaring in fast-growing areas such as e-mobility and heat conductivity. We have been developing the process for some time internally, but I would really like to emphasize the value of the excellent cooperation with key customers in our fast-growing Digital Metal User Group. It has been a great help and we are now very pleased to deliver a high-quality copper process for Digital Metal binder jetting”, said Christian Lönne, CEO at Digital Metal.
Pure Copper, DM Cu, is the latest addition to Digital Metal’s binder jetting system. Other materials in the range are stainless steel 316L and 17-4PH, tool steel DM D2, superalloys DM 625 (equivalent to Inconel 625) and DM 247 (equivalent to MAR M247) and Titanium Ti6Al4V. Digital Metal is constantly working on expanding the material offers in close cooperation with its parent company Höganäs AB, the world’s largest metal powder manufacturer.
Applications examples include a bullhorn antenna, where copper binder jetting was used to manufacture horn waveguide antennas. This brings benefits that include cost savings on parts that can be surprisingly difficult, and thus expensive, to manufacture using traditional manufacturing; the flexibility to choose the profile that suits specific needs (for example ellipse, circle, rectangle or square); the ability to choose the amplified frequency, as well as weight reduction through hin wall construction, with ribs to add stiffness and keep material only where necessary.
Another demonstrative application is a heat sink gyroid and other TPMS (Triply Periodic Minimal Surface) heat sinks that boast increased heat transfer and rigidity compared to plate and pin fin designs. In this heat sink, the baseline TPMS structure is modified in three dimensions to get thicker walls and wider air passages near the base and thin, closely spaced walls at the top, which distributes heat optimally and allows strong natural convective flow. Heat sinks are easily customized using Digital Metal’s binder jetting system, whereas they are impossible or more challenging to manufacture using other methods.