AM-manufactured workpieces with the good electrical and thermal conductivity characteristics of pure copper are challenging to obtain via conventional L-PBF technology. That has just changed with INFINITE POWDER Cu 01. Infinite Flex, a smart materials company located in Neu-Isenburg, Germany, has launched a new pure copper powder that can be easily processed on standard SLM systems.
INFINITE POWDER Cu 01 has been successfully tested on the SLM systems from EOS (EOS M290) and Trumpf (TruPrint 1000) and is now commercially available. The excellent material properties of workpieces and test specimens made from INFINITE POWDER Cu 01 by additive manufacturing are listed in Table 1 on the right.
With these properties, it is now possible to use the advantages of additive manufacturing for highly conductive copper components. High-end applications such as heat exchangers, induction coils and components in the electronics industry are now becoming reality.
Pure copper is a very popular metal in almost all branches of industry. The main reason for this is its high electrical and thermal conductivity. Pure copper cannot be easily used in additive manufacturing because the coupling of the IR laser radiation hardly works at all with pure copper. The strong reflection of the laser radiation and the high thermal conductivity of pure copper are the primary reasons for this. Several different companies have been addressing the use of copper in AM via alternative technologies such as green lasers for SLM, EBM or bound metal filament extrusion technologies.
So far, various copper alloys such as CuCrZr or CuNiSiCr have been used; with mediocre results. These copper alloys exhibit significantly lower conductivity properties than pure copper. For example, CuCrZr achieves an electrical conductivity of at best 70% of pure copper and the conductivity of CuNiSiCr is even worse (24 MS/m or around 40% of the value of pure copper).