How Copper printing can solve complex problems

The high potential of additive manufacturing of copper largely contributed to mainstreaming this production technique among engineers. Throughout its projects, Beamler developed this technique and pushed the boundaries of science, helping scientists around the world to solve complex problems. This article presents two 3D printed copper parts manufactured by Beamler for a company specialized in electron beams technology and aerospace part supplier for NASA.

Beamler expertise in additive manufacturing of copper

In this section, we give an insight of Beamler expertise in the additive manufacturing of pure copper and present this cutting edge technology.

What is Beamler ?

Beamler helps engineers to choose the most suitable material for their part. Specialized in additive manufacturing of high performance materials, Beamler developed an extensive database of printable materials helping its team to select the perfect fit.  By connecting engineers to professional additive manufacturing platforms, Beamler helps reduce production time, offering on-demand prototyping and series production. Thanks to the diversity of the projects our team worked on, Beamler has expertise in additive manufacturing of high performance materials such as tungsten, copper or inconel among others.

Additive manufacturing of copper

Copper is a metal denominated as Cu in the periodic table of elements. It has one of the highest >thermal conductivity of all metals with 400 W/(m.K). This property makes copper a perfect fit for the production of thermal devices such as heat pipes. Beamler worked with >Calyos to design and produce a 3D printed pure  copper heat pipe used for the cooling of electronic devices. An article has been written to give an in depth analysis of the heat pipe.

Beamler: an R&D accelerator

In this section, we give an in-depth presentation of the two 3D printed copper parts for Beamler’s industrial partners.

Heat exchanger for particle accelerators

Beamler and its industrial partner successfully 3D printed a copper heat exchanger made of CuNi2SiCr alloy. Beamelr’s partner offers a variety of electron beam systems used in many industries such as medicine. Those particle accelerators systems need to be kept at a working temperature for optimal performances. A common technique used for cooling down electron beam systems are heat exchangers. The image below is a demo part of a 3D printed copper heat exchanger printed by EOS.

3D printed copper heat exchanger – EOS

Heat exchangers are used to transfer heat between two fluids without mixing them. Heat is transferred using convection and conduction principles. For this last heat transfer method, a high thermal conductivity material such as copper is necessary to increase the heat flux between the two fluids.  The heat exchanger printed by Beamler for its industrial partner is a large copper part made of CuNi2SiCr alloy. Its thermal conductivity is 165 W/(m.K). The image below shows the printed part, which necessitated no post processing.
Large 3D printed copper part - Beamler

Large 3D printed copper part – Beamler

Cryogenic ice melting for NASA supplier

Beamler’s partner for this project is a NASA supplier building smart gadgets, machines, vehicles, and systems for extreme environments such as deep caves on Earth or extraterrestrial exploration of ocean worlds. Ocean worlds are planets holding liquid water oceans. They closely work with universities and government agencies such as NASA on the SESAME project for example. This project aims to develop technologies able to access liquid water stuck under several kilometers of ice on ocean worlds such as Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.  One of the many challenges to overcome this Herculean task is to penetrate the different layers of ice, while avoiding voids and rock formations through the probe’s journey. A cryobot is a robot that can penetrate water ice. In the primary development of such a technology, Beamler’s partner developed a passive ice-melting probe, part of a NASA-funded project. The cryobot is used to address important technical challenges and gather data to feed the existing models on the penetrator dynamics.

Left : 3D printed pure copper cryobot, as printed

Right : Assembly of the cryobot

The 3D printed pure copper cryobot was built using Laser Powder bed Fusion and no post processing was needed. The part is shown as printed on the left images and consists of a hollow cylinder which can host all the necessary science equipment and electronics. The cryobot features internal heaters that heat the copper shell of the structure, melting the surrounding ice. The cryobot then descends through ice by gravity.  After assembly, the part was first ice-tested in sea-level conditions as shown in the video below, courtesy of Beamler’s industrial partner and NASA supplier. The next step is to test the cryobot in vacuum ice at -190°C, extremely low temperatures as can be found on Europa.

Choose copper now and start your project

The collaboration between Beamler and its science partners demonstrates the capacity of our company to provide strong scientific competence and high quality parts. 

 

Copper additive manufacturing has proved its worth as a cutting edge technology. If you are looking for a material with excellent thermal properties, copper is a serious candidate. Contact Beamler and request a quote to start your project now !

Contact Beamler now to receive your Copper quote

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