Markforged Releases Solution for 3D Printing Pure Copper 

The Markforged Metal X makes it easy to consistently create complex parts with high electrical and thermal conductivity.

The Markforged Metal X makes it easy to consistently create complex parts with high electrical and thermal conductivity.

Copper heatsink. Image courtesy of Markforged.

Markforged, manufacturer of metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, released pure Copper for the Markforged Metal X system, a safe way to 3D print the widely used material. 3D printing copper parts on demand will drive new manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies for customers, leading to reduced lead times and part costs, as well as eliminating the need for costly inventory. Available today, Markforged provides an easy and fast way to produce geometrically complex copper with high electrical and thermal conductivity. 

“Copper powers our world. It’s everywhere. It builds our cars, enables phones, and keeps electrical equipment running,” says 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.”

Copper lightbox. Image courtesy of Markforged.

The new material is available for the Metal X system, Markforged’s platform that safely and rapidly 3D prints metal. Copper is the latest metal to join the lineup of materials, which also includes aerospace superalloys like Inconel 625, 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, H13 Tool Steel, D2 Tool Steel and A2 Tool Steel. With systems across six continents, the Metal X is used to deliver on applications such as functional prototypes, tooling and fixtures, and end-use production parts to help customers reduce manufacturing costs and improve supply chain efficiency. 

Automotive Spot Welding 

“Complex production parts are required to weld tight spots of the car body,” Mark adds. “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.” 

Hundreds of Markforged 3D printers are deployed at nine of the 10 highest-valued auto manufacturers in the world. Markforged partnered with one of these customers to conduct in-depth weld testing using Copper. After thousands of welds, the testing showed the same resistance as traditional manufactured spot welding shanks, and the automotive manufacturer plans to extend the use of the 3D printing parts to the production line. With Markforged additive manufacturing, the automotive manufacturer has already reported reduced part lead times by 12x and part costs by 6x.

Material Benefits 

  • Harness high thermal and electrical conductivity—including greater than 350 W/mK thermal conductivity and 84% IACS electrical conductivity; 
  • Consistently create complex, tight tolerance parts with the safe, easy and affordable Metal X system 
  • Bring copper part production in-house, reducing lead time to a few days 

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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