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3D printing with copper  –
An innovative manufacturing technology based on KME expertise

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a process using digital design data for the shaping of fully functional objects. In doing so, the material of choice is applied in layers on top of one another in order to produce threedimensional workpieces. 3D printers used in this manufacturing process melt copper powder by laser beam and shape objects from the molten mass. This is especially interesting for a whole range of modern and future technologies. In the TECHNOS network, KME is now working in close cooperation with the University of Osnabrück on perfecting the application of Selective Laser Beam Melting (SLM) for 3D printing with copper.

Industrial 3D printing has developed into a supplemental and sometimes even an alternative production method for components and small batches. The advanced technology allows prototypes and products to be shaped in ways that haven’t been possible up to now. Some important industrial services will also benefit from the use of AM, such as providing JIT spare parts. Keeping spare parts on stock so they are immediately available when needed can be very costly. Production on demand by 3D printing will provide the perfect solution in many cases, doing away with the need to keep tools and forms at hand. The parts thus produced will have the advantage of having the latest design optimizations and engineering modifications.

Because of its outstanding electrical and thermal conductivity, durability and complete recyclability, copper from KME is used in countless applications, making it highly interesting for Additive Manufacturing. KME expertise has also built up a vast amount of know-how on the possibilities for modifying copper’s material properties and how it can be individually adapted to specific applications. This puts KME in an excellent position to soon offer future technologies that will make use of the many advantages of copper and its unique abilities to meet special demands when using Additive Manufacturing. Industry 4.0, the internet of things, autonomous driving, electromobility, air and space craft components are only a few examples for the limitless possibilities of innovative solutions in copper from KME.

KME is a co-founder of TECHNOS e.V., an industry and research network to which the company is significantly contributing its expertise as an engineering service provider for solutions in copper. As a part of TECHNOS e.V., the new Technology Campus for 3D Material Design was established in the KME works in cooperation with the University of Osnabrück, which is located close-by. After implementing the first commercial green laser SLM installation worldwide, the process of 3D printing with copper is now being optimized for series maturity. From powder production to 3D realization to quality testing of prototypes, a future technology is being pioneered that will open new horizons for innovative copper applications.

KME - Engineering Copper Solutions