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Filamet copper

The Virtual Foundry

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129,90 €
129,90 €

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With 89 % metal, metal parts with copper properties (radiation protection) are achieved.

Filamet™ copper from The Virtual Foundry (TVF) is an innovative filament composed of 90% metal and the rest by PLA. The Virtual Foundry is an American company formed by great experts in the sector of molten metal, which have been constantly working since 2014 to improve and grow its range of filaments and accessories for 3D FDM metal printing. Its products are oriented to solve and simplify problems through innovative metallic materials for 3D FDM printers of any kind.

Ships printed with Filamet copperImage 1: Ships made from unsintered copper, after debinding and finally sintering. Source: The Virtual Foundry

Copper was one of the first metals used in prehistory to be easily found in nature and easy to work. It is characterized by its reddish color, its brightness, but above all, for being one of the best conductors of electricity, being a value so high that it has been assigned as the maximum value of the electrical conductivity reference (IACS). Copper shows great ductility and malleability, ease of lamination and forging, and even ease of being welded. This metal is used in electrical conductivity applications (wiring, electrical equipment or integrated circuits), dissipative and corrosion resistant elements (brakes, bearings or catenaries), water transport products (pipes) and formerly for the manufacture of elements decorative and coins. Given the infinity of applications in which copper is present, it is not surprising that it is the third most consumed metal worldwide.

The Virtual Foundry has been the pioneer in developing metallic filaments for 3D printing after many years of research and development. The great competitive advantage developed is that to obtain the pure metal parts it is only necessary to print the piece and sinter it in an oven. Other manufacturers that have tried to develop metallic filaments need to do one more process (prior to sintering in the furnace) which is the debinding that consists of a chemical process to separate the binder polymers from the metal. Therefore, it can be concluded that The Virtual Foundry is the pioneer and the benchmark in 3D metal FDM printing, obtaining a fairly simple process with results never seen so far in the world of metal fabrication.

Currently, a large list of industry sectors are using The Virtual Foundry filaments: 3D printer manufacturers, biomedical innovation, jet engine development, radiation shielding, space exploration, nuclear energy, dental, artists or fashion design. A remarkable application is the manufacture of a drill with internal hot water heating, for drilling in the Antarctic. With the Filamet™ copper it has been manufactured, very easily and at a low cost, a drill with an internal structure extremely difficult to machine or mold has been manufactured very easily and at a low cost. Another notable application is the printing of containers for radiation shielding with tungsten Filamet™. These types of containers are used to transport reactive medicines without having to resort to lead containers (toxic). Thanks to the density of tungsten, 1.6 higher than lead, this filament is ideal for creating any type of replacement part made from lead.

Filamet™ copper is a filament formed by base metal and a biodegradable and ecological polymer (PLA). This material is free of exposed metal particles and volatile solvents that can be released during printing. Formed by 90% copper and the rest by PLA, this material is extremely simple to print, since its printing properties are similar to those of the PLA, which allows any user of a FDM 3D printer create parts with this filament, without the need to buy expensive industrial 3D FDM metal printers. With Filamet™ copper properties similar to those possible with DMLS technology are achieved but with certain limitations. Due to the need to sinter the printed pieces with this filament, where the PLA is removed, the pieces have porosity, loss of volume and non-isotropy. DMLS 3D printers manage to print totally solid parts (similar to the foundry), in great detail, layer heights of 0.02 mm and without the need for post-processing, the only disadvantage compared to Filamet™ 3D FDM printing the cost of: material, manufacturing and the printers themselves.

Model manufactured with copper Filamet™ and sintered

Image 2: Model manufactured with Filamet™ copper and sintered. Source: The Virtual Foundry

Due to its large metal content (90%), it is necessary to place the filament inlet as aligned as possible with the extruder and use FilaWarmer, a heater through which the filament is introduced to eliminate its curvature and that way the least possible friction occurs in the extruder and HotEnd. Once a piece is printed, it is necessary to carry out the sintering process, in an open environment or in a vacuum or inert environment, to eliminate the polymer (PLA), taking into account that sintering values must be adjusted depending on the geometry and oven model. The product that is obtained is totally metallic, with the real properties of the metal as electrical conductivity, post-processed by sanding and polishing or even welding union; but with a certain porosity and a reduction in volume due to the loss of PLA. To know more about the whole process of printing, sintering and post-processing you should visit the "Tips for Use" section.

Cone made of no sintered copper Filamet™Cone made of sintered copper Filamet™

Image 3: Cones made of no sintered and sintered copper Filamet™. Source: The Virtual Foundry

Users who do not have an kiln with the necessary properties to sinter the printed parts with the Filamet™ copper and get the final properties of this metal, can contact us and we will assess its viability through our collaborators with ability to perform the post-processing necessary to obtain the desired final result.

Machinable Machinable
Fatigue resistance Fatigue resistance
Electrical conductivity Electrical conductivity
Thermal conductivity Thermal conductivity
Metallic content Metallic content
Detectable Detectable
Hide color variations (Hide color variations)

PRINTING TIPS

Due to the high quantity of metal, the filament can be broken more easily than a conventional PLA filament. To avoid breakage during printing, it is recommended to use Filawarmer, an accessory that preheats the filament before printing to reduce its fragility and increase its malleability.

It is necessary to use a hardened nozzle of at least 0.6 mm diameter to avoid jamming.

It is recommended to print on a glass base and use an adhesive such as Magigoo. It is not possible to print directly on PEI bases, as the part could be welded to the base and the base would be damaged. If you have a PEI base, we recommend applying a layer of Blue Tape.

Printing at low speeds of up to 30 mm/s is recommended.

SINTERING PROCESS

Necessary materials:

  • Metallurgical furnace.
  • Refractory crucible
  • Refractory powder
  • Sinter coal


STEP 1: Placing the piece

  1. Fill the crucible with refractory powder leaving 25 mm free on the surface of the crucible.
  2. Immerse the piece in the refractory powder making sure to leave a gap of at least 15 mm between the surface of the piece and the walls and upper and lower parts of the crucible. The refractory powder must not be compacted.
  3. Place the crucible in the furnace.

STEP 2: Thermal Debind.

  1. Heat at a rate of 55.6 ºC/h until 482 ºC is reached.
  2. Maintain at 482 °C for 4 hours.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Turn off the oven and unplug it to turn off the power.
  5. Remove the piece and the refractory powder from the crucible.

STEP 3: Preparation for sintering

  1. Fill the crucible with refractory powder leaving 25 mm free on the surface of the crucible.
  2. Immerse the workpiece in the refractory powder making sure to leave a clearance of at least 15 mm between the surface of the workpiece and the walls and top and bottom of the crucible. Do not compact the refractory powder.
  3. Cover the surface with 25 mm of sintering charcoal. If possible, place a lid on the crucible (without sealing it, it is used to preserve the sintering charcoal).
  4. Return the crucible to the furnace.

STEP 4: Sintering

  1. Heat at a rate of 111.1 ºC/h to 1052 ºC.
  2. Hold at 1052 ºC for 5 hours*.

STEP 5: Cooling

  1. 2 Allow to cool to room temperature.

* Recommended time for a bucket of up to 50mm. For larger pieces it will be necessary to increase the time.

General information
Manufacturer The Virtual Foundry (USA)
Material Copper (89 %) + PLA 
Format Spool of 500 g
Density 4.5 g/cm3
Amount of metal (volume) 66 %
Amount of metal (mass) 89 %
Diameter of filament 1.75 or 2.85 mm
Diameter tolerance
Filament length ±47 m (Ø 1.75 mm - 0.5 kg)
±17 m (Ø 2.85 mm - 0.5 kg)
Color Reddish
RAL/Pantone  -
Print settings
Printing temperature 205 - 215 ºC
Temperatura de base/cama 50 ºC (optional)
FilaWarmer temperature (1) 45 ºC
Print bed temperature -
Chamber temperature -
Print speed 30 mm/s
Nozzle diameter ≥0.6 mm stainless steel
Recommended infill 100 %
Sintering properties
Container Refractory Crucible
Refractory powder Al2O3
Maximum temperature 1074 ºC
Mechanical properties
Izod impact strength -
Charpy impact strength -
Elongation at break -
Tensile strength -
Tensile Modulus -
Flexural strength -
Flexural modulus -
Surface hardness -
Thermal properties
Softening temperature 55 ºC
Melting temperature 1083 ºC
Specific properties
Transparency  Opaque
Radiation protection (without sintering) Yes
Additional Information
HS Code 7406.1
Diameter coil (outer) 300 mm
Diameter coil (inner hole) 65 mm
Coil Width 55 mm


* The typical values detailed in this table should be considered as a reference. Actual values may vary depending on the 3D printer model used, part design and printing conditions. We recommend confirming the results and final properties with own tests. For more information you should consult the technical data sheet of the product.

(1) The use of FilaWarmer to heat the filament and eliminate its curvature is essential, so that there is less friction in the extruder and HotEnd.

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