Dragon Copper: Copper Nanocomposite for 3D Printing
Development of a process for the production of an advanced composite material based on two steps: mixing of pure copper spheroidal powder with fine grain size and carbon nanotubes (CNTs); Additive manufacturing (AM) of pure copper metal matrix nanocomposites reinforced with CNTs. The result of this process consists of a copper solid inside which the CNTs are finely dispersed, characterized by advanced performances and, unlike the parts realized using traditional subtractive methods, with an already finished geometry and the possibility of immediate use of the produced part. The patent is an alternative to traditional methods of production of metal matrix composite materials to overcome many limitations inherent in synthesis processes.
A new composite material made of pure copper reinforced with was developed through additive manufacturing carbon nanotubes (CNTs), termed Dragon Copper. The innovative combination of copper and CNTs has allowed the rapid prototyping of components with remarkable mechanical, thermal and electric. The proposed technology makes it possible to overcome the limits associated with traditional production methods of metal matrix composites and to develop advanced multifunctional nanocomposites characterized by already finished geometry with the possibility of immediate use of the produced part, without the need for further ones post-treatments. By appropriately adjusting the process parameters and the concentration of the CNTs within the copper matrix, the functional properties of copper can be greatly improved. To example, the addition of a small fraction of CNTs (0.1 wt%) allowed to obtain components having far superior mechanical performance than the pure copper counterpart, with a remarkable increase in tensile strength and elastic modulus of approximately 171% and 144%, respectively. There technology has been validated in the laboratory (TRL: 4). It is expected to be placed on the reference market within a year.
- Aerospace, thermal management of satellites;
- Telecommunications sector;
- Development of compact heat exchangers for operating/maintaining the efficiency of the main hybrid and electric propulsion systems;
- Naval and automotive fields.
- Reduction of waste material;
- Creation of otherwise unfeasible geometries;
- Production of ready-to-use parts in as-built version;
- Improved thermal and electrical conductivity compared to pure copper; increased mechanical strength.