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Which Metal 3D Printers Can Make Copper And Copper Alloys can provide 3D printing services for copper and copper alloys. Copper is one of the latest and most promising areas of metal 3D printing, including everything from motors to radiators.

Previously, 3D printing with copper was a challenge due to its reflective nature and high thermal conductivity, but advances in printers and materials have largely met early challenges. Today, 3D printed copper propulsion systems send rockets into space, 3D printed copper heat sinks keep CPUs cool, and 3D printed copper coils improve motor performance.

Why 3D printed copper?

Copper has always been a very useful metal because of its ability to conduct heat and electricity, resist corrosion, and even kill bacteria and viruses. Demand for complex copper parts is growing as 3D printing opens up more applications and possibilities for the metal.

3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) is capable of producing incredibly complex shapes, fine details, internal structures and lattice infills that are not possible with any other type of metal fabrication. These features reduce weight, increase efficiency, and reduce manufacturing and assembly time because multi-part assemblies can be 3D printed as a single unit.

3D printing also enables more efficient manufacturing of this relatively expensive metal, reducing waste because it uses only the amount of material required for each part. For companies interested in 3D copper printing, reducing raw material costs is critical.

If you already produce custom copper parts, you can significantly reduce production costs while optimizing part performance through 3D printing.

Read on to learn more about the technology and 3D printers that enable engineers, manufacturers, and designers to reimagine what’s possible with copper.

While there aren’t many 3D printers that can print with copper, there are still a variety of printing technologies and prices.

FDM printers that use copper-filled plastic filaments can produce copper jewelry, decorative items, and other components that are nearly 100% copper. And for more advanced manufacturing, 3D printers using copper powder, rods or copper and polymer slurries produce industrial parts with superior mechanical and electrical conductivity properties to international standards such as IACS (International Annual Copper Standard).

Copper powder bed fusion 3D printer

Powder bed fusion is one of the most popular metal 3D printing methods, and some machine builders have recently introduced copper to their list of material options. Because copper is highly reflective, using lasers to process powders presents obstacles for manufacturers. However, the technology and materials have evolved to meet the challenge.

For example, 3D printer manufacturer Trumpf has developed an industrial green laser that makes it possible to 3D print materials such as copper, copper alloys and precious metals that are difficult to process with infrared wavelengths.

Two metal 3D printing powder bed technologies, DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) and EBM (Electron Beam Melting), work by spreading a thin layer of copper powder on top of a platform inside the printer. The powder is heated while a laser or electron beam tracks the first layer of the part. As the particles in the layer fuse, the platform is lowered slightly into the build chamber with fresh powder deposited on top, and the process repeats. Some of the copper powder left over from the process can be recycled and used in the next print.

Copper Bonder Jet 3D Printer

Copper powder is combined with a liquid binder and then sintered in a furnace in a 3D printing method called binder jetting, which produces parts without the need for support materials. Binder blasting is a heatless process in which a bonding layer is sprayed between each layer of metal: the binder is later removed during the sintering process.

Binder jetting is a common method for additive manufacturing of a large number of metal parts.

Copper FDM and bonded metal deposition 3D printers

The most economical way to copper 3D printing parts is to use a machine that extrudes filament. Metal filaments used to print metal parts consist of a plastic base into which metal particles are evenly injected. Copper Infused Filament for Copper Parts is a unique type of composite filament that, when used correctly, can produce strong, chemically resistant, and nearly solid metal parts.

Almost any Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer can print almost solid metal parts with copper powder-filled polymer filaments. Currently, the only option on the market is a virtual foundry from a filament manufacturer. The company says its copper filament will be printed on any filament 3D printer, with a hardened nozzle and hot end that can reach 225oC. However, these parts are not metal on the print bed, and additional steps are required to melt the polymer binder after printing, leaving only the metal.

Other types of copper wire have enough real copper particles inside to polish them and have a metallic-like weight, but these are used for decorative purposes.

A Chilean company called “Copper 3D” produces a copper-filled filament that does not produce metal parts, but rather a filament with copper’s antimicrobial and antimicrobial properties. NASA is even testing the filament for use in “interstellar microbial contamination,” according to the company.

In addition to mainstream FDM printers, two other extrusion filaments are also available in copper, but these use their own proprietary materials. Tabletop Metal uses bound metal filament, while Mark Forge uses a similar metal powder that is bound in a plastic matrix. These manufacturers’ printers produce solid metal parts for industrial uses such as machine tools, induction coils, heat sinks, and functional prototypes.

Copper cold spray and DED 3D printer

While these two metal 3D printing methods are not typically combined together, we do so here because they typically apply coating a metal part with another metal and building the metal powder metal part layer by layer.

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is a system developed by New Mexico Optical for creating, enhancing and repairing metal components. Similar to SLS, high-power lasers in DED build 3D structures layer by layer, producing parts with high density and strength that are ideal for mechanical applications. In 2019, Optomec developed a new copper DED process for the production of heat exchangers for aerospace, chemical processing and other industrial applications.

Spee3D’s WarpSpee3D is unique in its process, using supersonic 3D deposition to produce parts from a range of metal powder feedstocks, including copper and aluminum.

Cold spray is an additive manufacturing technology that injects metal powder into a supersonic stream of pressurized gas. Rather than melting the metal, cold spray bonds it together in a process called plastic deformation. Companies like Spee3D use cold spray technology to apply antimicrobial copper coatings to doors, handrails and touch panels for use in hospitals, schools and other public spaces.

Cold fog is also the fastest metal 3D printing method. Spee3D printed a 17.9kg aerospace rocket nozzle liner (pictured below) out of pure copper on WarpSpee3D in about three hours, at a cost of just $716, the company said. Parts like this are typically machined from solid forged copper, a process that takes weeks and costs tens of thousands of dollars.

One disadvantage of DED and cold spray is that they are limited in the production of complex geometries.


Metal DLP 3D printing is similar to resin 3D printing in that it uses UV light projected onto a photosensitive paste, which solidifies layer by layer. Metal DLP printers use liquid polymer filled with metal powder and a small amount of binder, rather than resin. Once these parts are printed, they have more steps to go through before the final metal parts are made. Metal DLP is prized for its fine detail.

California-based startup Holo recently completed a facility where it plans to 3D print pure copper parts on its proprietary 3D printer, which are not for sale. Holo will focus on 3D printed copper cooling solutions for high-performance computers, electric vehicles, RF antennas and heat exchangers.