At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT), Christopher Williams heads the effort to further advance 3-D printing–known among engineers as additive manufacturing–with copper, a widely used conductor in electronics. Williams is using a process called binder jetting in which an inkjet printer selectively jets glue into a bed of copper powder, layer-by-layer. The printed copper product is then taken to a furnace to fuse the particles together
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Williams is addressing a major challenge in the 3-D copper printing process, which is to eliminate the porosity that develops in the part during the process. These microscopic pockets of air weaken the finished product. Is it time to move from 3D Printing Plastics to metal?