Carbon fibre and metal 3D printer manufacturer Markforged has announced the availability of pure Copper for its Metal X 3D printer.
The company says the material provides a safe and accessible way for engineers to produce geometrically complex copper parts with high electrical and thermal conductivity, with the added benefit of reduced lead times by bringing copper part production in-house.
“Copper powers our world. It’s everywhere. It builds our cars, enables phones, and keeps electrical equipment running,” said Greg Mark, Markforged CEO and Founder. “Copper has traditionally been an expensive and challenging material to machine and incompatible for 3D printing in a pure form with other techniques. Now, we’ve made it easier and cheaper to produce. Markforged 3D printed Copper will be a game-changer for the automotive and electronics industries, and it will open the door to innovation across many more.”
Markforged believes the material will be particularly beneficial to the automotive industry, citing copper welding shanks as a key application area. With hundreds of Markforged systems already said to be installed at nine of world’s 10 highest-valued auto manufacturers, Mark suggested that the addition of copper for the production of complex parts on-demand, would be a welcome one.
Greg Mark added. “Complex production parts are required to weld tight spots of the car body. They cost thousands of dollars to make and can have months-long lead times. But Markforged is changing all of that by enabling manufacturers to produce parts in-house so they get them faster and for significantly lower costs. With our 3D printed parts, automotive manufacturers can print the parts they need on demand instead of holding significant inventory and will be able to design new kinds of welding shanks that were never before possible.”
Markforged partnered with one such unnamed automotive company to conduct in-depth weld testing using the new material. After thousands of welds, the results showed the same resistance as traditionally manufactured spot welding shanks. The results have encouraged the manufacturer to expand its 3D printing capacity for other metal components, which it believes could bring inventory cost savings of around 200,000 USD per year with just one Metal X system.