Desktop Metal, a leader in mass production and turnkey additive manufacturing solutions, announced the launch of copper for the Studio System office-friendly metal 3D printing system for low volume production.
With its excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, copper is considered an ideal material for transferring heat or electricity and is used in virtually every electronic device made, as well as in many of the heat exchangers used across a variety of industries, including oil and gas, automotive, and consumer products.
A key benefit for Desktop Metal customers is that the copper material used with the Studio System is pure copper. Unlike laser-based processes, which often print chromium zirconium copper, the Studio System’s proprietary Bound Metal Deposition process can print pure copper.
Early customer applications demonstrating the material’s benefits include:
Manufacturing: Electrode Holder
Electrode holders hold electrodes in position during resistive nut welding. Printed in copper, the part features internal conformal cooling channels to improve temperature regulation. In application, electrodes are consumable and often need to be replaced quickly and affordably when they wear out to keep the manufacturing line up and running. Using copper in combination with conformal cooling channels helps to pull heat off the electrode and the electrode holder to better regulate the temperature, leading to a better weld and a longer part lifetime.
Automotive: Motor Heat Sink
Heat exchangers help dissipate heat from an electric motor while the motor operates, keeping the motor at a more ideal operating temperature. The Studio System allows for the copper heat exchanger to conform to the motor shape, distributing heat more efficiently from the motor to the surrounding environment. The tall, thin fins in this motor heat sink are easily customized using 3D printing on the Studio System, whereas they are more challenging to manufacture via machining, due to chattering as the fins are cut.
Chemical Processing: Helical Heat Exchanger
Helical heat exchangers cool a hot gas as it flows through a pipe. The Studio System allows for the heat exchanger to be printed with an internal helical channel that enables cooling fluid to flow through it. The complex geometry of that channel can only be made with additive manufacturing.
Electric Power Distribution: Bus Bar
Bus bars are used for local high current power distribution. As power is transferred, the bus bar begins to get hot, internal cooling channels help to regulate the temperature, and copper’s excellent thermal conductivity value ensures that heat is efficiently transferred from the bus bar to the coolant. The bus bar’s design features complex cooling channels running through its core. Using the Studio System, the bus bar can be printed as a single copper part complete with internal cooling features. Using traditional methods, the channels would require a multi-part assembly to create the final part.
Copper is the latest addition to the Studio System materials library that also includes 4140 chromoly steel, H13 tool steel, 316L, and 17-4 PH stainless steels. In addition to materials that are already available, Desktop Metal’s team of materials scientists are continuously working to develop new materials and processes to make 3D printing accessible to even broader industries and applications.
The metallurgy behind the Studio System is built upon the materials science and established powder supply chain of the metal injection molding (MIM) industry.
Key Studio System benefits include:
High-quality parts. Users can easily 3D print difficult-to-machine parts with up to 98% density with complex geometry-like undercuts and internal channels. Fabricate software automates complicated metallurgical processes to produce high-quality parts with densities and feature accuracy similar to casting.
Easy to use. The Studio System is built to make 3D printing metal parts as easy as uploading a design to Fabricate software and pressing print with no guesswork or manual calculations. Material changeovers are quick and easy, enabled by a hot-swappable material cartridge design.
Designed for the office. The Studio System is designed to seamlessly integrate 3D printing into design and engineering workflows. By eliminating lasers and loose metal powders, the system easily assimilates into a team’s work environment with no third-party equipment and minimal facilities investment required.