Tech Update


Markforged Releases Copper for Metal X System

Friday, February 14, 2020

Markforged has released pure copper for its Metal X 3D printing system, providing a simple and rapid way to produce geometrically complex copper with high electrical and thermal conductivity, according to company officials. This includes greater than 350 W/mK thermal conductivity and 84-percent electrical conductivity according to the International Annealed Copper Standard.

“Copper traditionally has been an expensive and challenging material to machine, and incompatible for 3D printing in a pure form with other techniques,” says Greg Mark, Markforged CEO and founder, in announcing a solution. “(It) will be a game-changer for the automotive and electronics industries, and will open the door to innovation across many more.” 

Copper is the latest metal to join the lineup of materials available for the Metal X, which also includes aerospace superalloys such as Inconel 625; 17-4 PH stainless steel; and H13, D2 and A2 tool steels. Metal X applications with these materials include functional prototypes, tooling and fixtures, and end-use production parts.

One copper application: shanks for automotive spot welding.

“Every automotive factory in the world uses copper for welding,” Mark says. “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 (copper in the Metal X) is changing all of that by enabling manufacturers to produce parts inhouse, faster and for significantly lower costs. With (these) 3D printed parts, automotive manufacturers can print the parts they need on demand instead of holding significant inventory, and can design new kinds of welding shanks that were never before possible.” 

Markforged partnered with a large automotive manufacturer to conduct in-depth weld testing using copper, according to company officials, resulting in thousands of successful welds. The testing reportedly showed the same resistance as traditionally manufactured spot welding shanks, with the manufacturer planning to extend the use of the 3D printing parts to the production line after noting the conductivity and structural stability. The new process reportedly resulted in 1/12 the lead time and 1/6 the costs.  


See also: Markforged

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