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  • Filamet™ copper View larger

    Filamet copper

    The Virtual Foundry

    New product

    2 Items

    121,90 €tax excl.
    147,50 €tax incl.

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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.

    Gear made of copper without sintering

    Image 1: Gear made of copper without 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.

    Video 1: Part for the development of an automotive transmission. Source: The Virtual Foundry

    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)

    Post-processing:

    Sintered in open environment

    Sintered in vacuum or inert environment

    After printing, the pieces need to be sintered to remove the PLA that is part of Filamet™ copper. Sintering can be in an open environment or in a vacuum or inert environment. The user must take into account that sintering values must be adjusted depending on the geometry and oven model

    Sintered in open environment

    For sintering in an open environment a refractory vessel (crucible) and Al2O3 refractory powder is required. The process begins by sanding the rough edges of the piece for best results. Before inserting the piece into the crucible, a 1.25 cm layer of Al2O3 should be placed at the bottom of the crucible, then position the piece on the Al2O3 and in the center, without touching the walls. In the case of sintering several pieces at once, there should be a separation of 1.25 cm between them. Subsequently, the piece is covered with Al2O3, leaving a 1.25 cm layer on top, it is struck in a crucible so that the powder is distributed around the entire piece and is crushed so that it is completely compacted. The refractory powder is covered with coconut shell charcoal and crushed again. Finally, the crucible is covered with a stainless steel lid that covers at least 80 % of the last layer of coconut shell coal. Once the previous process is completed, the crucible is introduced into the oven and it is time to program the oven for sintering. From room temperature it rises to 205 ºC, from there to 1010 ºC, the temperature is increased 100 ºC/h. From these temperatures to 1060 °C, the temperature is increased 25 °C/h. Once these temperatures have been reached, they should be maintained between 1.5 hours and up to 4 hours depending on the size of the piece (pieces of 5 g to 10 g - 1.5 to 2.0 hours; pieces of 10 g to 25 g - 2.0 to 3.0 hours; pieces of 25 ga 40 g - 3.0 to 4.0 hours).

    Piece size (g)Time (h)
    5 - 10 1.5 - 2.0
    10 - 25 2.0 - 3.0
    25 - 40 3.0 - 4.0
    Table 1: Time of the last sintering step depending on the size of the piece

    The user must take into account that these times and temperatures are indicative and may vary depending on many aspects, such as the oven model used for example. At the end of the sintering cycle, the oven door should be opened slightly (approximately 3 cm) until the oven temperature drops below 535 °C, then it must be fully opened and allowed to cool until the oven can be operated crucible safely.

    Sintered in vacuum or inert environment

    For sintering in a vacuum or inert environment, a crucible (cooking vessel) and refractory powder are neededAl2O3. he piece is prepared for sintering by placing it inside the crucible and covering it with refractory dust, taking into account that there must be at least 10 mm of dust between the surfaces of the piece and the crucible. The crucible is then placed in the oven at room temperature. The temperature is increased to 205 °C in a time of 200 minutes. Then, in a 180 minute interval the temperature is raised to 400 °C. In a 180 minute stretch increase the temperature to 963 °C and keep it for 440 minutes. Finally, let the oven cool down to room temperature.

    Filamet™ copper sintered graphic

    Image 1: Filamet™ copper sintered graphic

    With sintering in a vacuum or inert environment, the mechanical properties of the final product are directly related to the time that the printed part is maintained at the sintering temperature. If the final product is powdery and brittle, the sintering time has not been sufficient. If the print shows a surface similar to wrinkled skin, it is over sintered. Finally and as a general rule, during the sintering process the volume of the piece is reduced by 7 %.

    Sintering processSintering process

    Image 2: Sintering process. Source: The Virtual Foundry

    Post-processing: Sanding and polishing

    Cube polished copperOnce sintered the piece can be sanded and polished in the same way as a metal but following a series of indications. With water sandpaper it is possible to eliminate the printing lines and other small deformations because the loose particles during sanding adhere to the gaps due to the heat of friction. In case of using sandpaper or 3M radial disc it is recommended to start sanding with a grain of 120 (80 for 3M radial disc), being careful not to deform the most delicate areas, such as corners. Once the entire surface has been sanded, a sandpaper of the next grain should be used and so on until it increases 6 or 7 (4 times for the 3M radial disc). Before moving on to the final polishing it is recommended to use a 3000 grit sandpaper, with which a certain gloss is achieved. Finally and once the piece is cleaned with a flannel cloth, the piece can be polished. TVF recommends using a rotating tool with a polishing disc and polishing wax to make polishing faster and more efficient. Simply apply a little polishing wax on the polishing disc and polish with constant movements throughout the piece so as not to generate excess heat, which can deform the piece. In addition to sanding and polishing parts made of copper Filamet™, it can be carved, recast, welded and smoothed with heat application.

    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 Stainless steel crucible
    Refractory powder Al2O3
    Maximum temperature 1060 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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