Over the years, Optomec have developed many unique technologies in the realm of 3D printing. Accordingly, their newest finding is potentially a leap forward for the industry as a whole. Optomec have developed a means for improved copper prints. In terms of electronics, copper is a ubiquitous material at every step. Due to its crucial role in the development of electronics, this new advent could move the industry further in terms of 3D printing functional electronics.
Optomec has shown that they can successfully integrate copper inks with their patented Aerosol jetting technology. Aerosol jetting 3D printers are able to shoot inks suspended in aerosol mist onto 2D or 3D substrates allowing them to print various electronics. One of its core advantages is that it eliminates the need for hard tooling photomasks or stencils used in traditional manufacturing methods.
The technology and the inks can aid in the production of embedded sensors, thermistors and flexible electronic circuits and other such technologies that were previously inaccessible to 3D printing. Copper and its various alloys like Constantin are especially useful because they are more reactive than a lot of metals. On top of this, copper has a high melting point and conducts electricity. It also has a very desirable flexibility for serving as a material to produce wires. All of this has made it a very desirable material for printing.
This is not the first time a company has printed copper. Previously, companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne used SLM to manufacture their rocket’s thrust chamber. However, due to its high melting point, copper has always been somewhat of a difficult substance to print. This new discovery aims to bring the whole industry that much closer to building a machine that can build a functional device from start to finish. Though that era is a while away, this is the giant leap forward.
Featured Image retrieved from Optomec