Infinte Flex Offers a Pure Copper Powder for Laser Powder Bed Fusion
German company Infinite Flex has developed a copper powder for laser-based 3D printing processes, specifically for powder bed fusion. It is 99.5% pure copper, which is particularly interesting for the additive manufacturing market, which is more used to using alloys. The material manufacturer hopes to meet the requirements of sectors such as electronics where conductivity is an essential property.
This is not the first time we have talked about copper in additive manufacturing. It is a difficult metal to process when it comes to using a laser, as copper has such a high reflectivity that it will also absorb part of the energy needed to build the part. This is why many market players have developed alternatives such as Desktop Metal, which has opted for extrusion, or Digital Metal, which prefers binder jetting. Manufacturers like Trumpf have chosen a green laser to process copper, others use alloys, thus reducing the purity of the material.
Infinite Flex also points out that it has already worked with alloys: “We have already used copper alloys such as CuCrZr or CuNiSiCr. However, these alloys have the disadvantage that they have significantly lower conductivity properties than pure copper. CuCrZr, for example, achieves an electrical conductivity of at best 70% of the pure copper value, and in the case of CuNiSiCr the conductivity of 24 MS/m is even only about 40% of the value of pure copper.” Faced with these inconclusive results, the company wanted to develop a new material.
Characteristics of the copper powder
Called INFINITE POWDER CU 01, the material has a copper content of 95.5% and was developed for SLM, LMD and DDM processes. However, the German company says it is mainly used on laser melting machines such as those developed by EOS or Trumpf. Its elongation at break, also known as frature strange, i.e., its ability to elongate with breaking under tension, is 24% while its electrical conductivity is greater than 52 MS/m. The material allows parts to be designed with a layer thickness of 30 microns and a porosity of less than 0.1%.
This new material would therefore be ideal for the production of heat exchangers, but also for applications in the electronic
and electrical sector that often require high thermal and electrical conductivity. Thanks to additive manufacturing, more complex and resistant parts can be created. However, the cost of a kilo of powder is 85 euros, which leaves little room for error. You can find more information on this copper powder HERE.
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*Cover Photo Credits: Infinite Flex