Green laser enables 3D-printing of copper and gold

Green laser enables 3D-printing of copper and gold

Technology News |
Processing precious metals with shiny surfaces such as gold or silver using the 3D printing process was previously not possible - the reflections were simply too strong. The machine tool manufacturer Trumpf GmbH (Ditzingen, Germany) has now found a way to do this: The company uses a green laser to melt the metal. An additional preheater makes it possible to process other materials that were previously not suitable for 3D printing.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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The TruPrint 5000 3D printer from Trumpf processes considerably more materials than conventional systems. It can even be used to produce objects made of copper or precious metals such as gold or silver. The manufacturer sees applications in tool and mold making, medical technology and the jewelry industry.

Unlike most other additive manufacturing systems, the machine operates with a preheater for the base material. The material is heated to temperatures up to 500°C. This allows the TruPrint 5000 to create components made of steel with a high carbon content or titanium alloys without tearing or warping. “Tool and die makers can use it to print forming tools, punches or dies. Without preheating, this was not possible,” says Tobias Baur, head of Trumpf Additive Manufacturing.

The company is also using a new green laser with pulse function to process for the first time pure copper and precious metals in a 3D printer. This makes the use of this production technology in mechanical and plant engineering attractive, because particularly conductive inductors or heat exchangers can easily be printed from pure copper. The green laser also has great potential for printing gold for the jewellery industry. Individual single pieces can be produced on demand and expensive material can be saved at the same time.


3D printing is often all about detail: tool and mold makers often work with the carbon-containing tool steel type 1.2343. The material is extremely hard, wear-resistant and dissipates heat particularly well. Previously however, it was not possible to process it in 3D printing because the components cracked during printing. “The laser beam melts the component on the surface and then the temperature returns to room temperature. So far, the component has not been able to withstand this drop in temperature, and cracks occurred,” says Baur. The substrate plate of the TruPrint 5000 3D printer can therefore be preheated to 500 degrees. This reduces the drop in temperature after laser melting.

Preheating also offers advantages for additive prostheses and implants: If the ambient temperature drops sharply, the component can warp and must be reworked. In addition, support structures are often required in this area of application, but they have to be set up first and then removed again with great effort. Preheating the TruPrint 5000 reduces stress, improves processing quality and in many cases makes support structures superfluous. Subsequent heat treatments can also often be reduced. The titanium also becomes more resilient and the implants more durable.

More information: https://www.trumpf.com/en_GB/

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