According to SmarTech Analysis, a provider of additive manufacturing market data and market analysis, shipments of copper powders to additive manufacturing grew by 45% in 2018 with an expected 60% growth during 2019 thanks to key technical developments in copper additive processes and materials. The report highlights AM’s potential to create disruptive copper component applications in industrial markets in the immediate future, with major opportunities in electronics and medical devices.
From the report:
–Copper printing exploration has been ongoing for years, with published research dating back to at least 2010. The largest market catalyst came in 2016 with the development and certification of printing of copper alloys, as well as pure copper, using metal powder bed fusion technologies (both laser and electron beam variants) for the production of copper induction coils.
–Copper materials are being explored within each of the three primary metal AM print technology families today, but their chemistry does present challenges to processing using established or ‘conventional’ metal AM system configurations in most available technologies.
There are three primary avenues to overcome these challenges:
• Alterations to or adaptations of hardware architecture of existing printing systems
• Tailoring of material properties and powder characteristics of copper materials used
• Development of alternative metal additive printing technologies suited to copper printing