Design Engineering

Breakthrough improves 3D printability of copper

By DE Staff   

Additive Manufacturing

Uppsala University, Graphmatech graphene-based solution reduces reflectivity of challenging metal.

This graphene coating significantly lowers the reflectivity of the copper powder.
(Photo credit: Graphmatech)

In spite of the rapid growth of metal 3D printing, some metals, including pure copper, have proven challenging due to their high reflectivity. At the wavelengths commonly used in laser powder bed fusion – the dominant technology in metal AM – only a small part of the energy is absorbed by the material, resulting in low density printed parts.

To overcome this limitation, researchers at Uppsala University, in collaboration with Swedish graphene materials company Graphmatech, have demonstrated a potential breakthrough in the printability of copper for laser additive manufacturing, significantly lowering the reflectivity of copper powder to achieve more dense printed parts.

“By modifying the surface of the copper powder using Graphmatech’s patented graphene technology, we successfully reduced the reflectance by up to 67%,” explains Graphmatech CEO Dr Mamoun Taher. The graphene incorporated also survived the printing process to positively impact the density of the printed copper-graphene parts, significantly reducing their porosity.

The research is being undertaken by Professor Ulf Jansson’s research group at Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, with PhD student Simon Tidén having recently been awarded a poster prize at the Swedish Arena for Additive Manufacturing of Metals Conference for the work.


“The new process developed to coat metal powder with graphene opens up very interesting perspectives for the design of new materials in various applications,” states Professor Jansson.

“This 3D printable hybrid material has the potential to add value in a range of sectors such as e-mobility, electronics and defence,” adds Dr Taher.

Graphmatech says its now scaling up the technology, to explore the potential for graphene in enhancing the processability of powders and the properties of printed parts.


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