Mechanical and thermal performance of additively manufactured copper, silver and copper–silver alloys

John Robinson*, Arun Arjunan, Ahmad Baroutaji, Mark Stanford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On-demand additive manufacturing (three-dimensional printing) offers great potential for the development of functional materials for the next generation of energy-efficient devices. In particular, novel materials suitable for efficient dissipation of localised heat fluxes and non-uniform thermal loads with superior mechanical performance are critical for the accelerated development of future automotive, aerospace and renewable energy technologies. In this regard, this study reports the laser powder bed fusion processing of high purity (>99%) copper (Cu), silver (Ag) and novel copper–silver (CuAg) alloys ready for on-demand additive manufacturing. The processed materials were experimentally analysed for their relative density, mechanical and thermal performance using X-ray computed tomography, destructive tensile testing and laser flash apparatus, respectively. It was found that while Ag featured higher failure strains, Cu in comparison showed a 109%, 17% and 59% improvement in yield strength ((Formula presented.)), Young’s modulus (E) and ultimate tensile strength, respectively. As such the (Formula presented.), E and ultimate tensile strength for laser powder bed fusion Cu is comparable to commercially available laser powder bed fusion Cu materials. CuAg alloys, however, significantly outperformed Ag, Cu and all commercial Cu materials when it came to mechanical performance offering significantly superior performance. The (Formula presented.), E and ultimate tensile strength for the novel CuAg composition were 105%, 33% and 94% higher in comparison to Cu. Although slightly different, the trend continued with a 106% and 91% rise for (Formula presented.) and ultimate tensile strength, respectively, for CuAg in comparison to industry-standard Cu. Unfortunately, E values for industry-standard Cu alloys were not available. When it came to thermal performance, laser powder bed fusion Ag was found to offer a 70% higher thermal diffusivity in comparison to Cu despite the variation in density and porosity. CuAg alloys however only showed a 0.8% variation in thermal performance despite a 10–30% increase in Ag. Overall, the study presents a new understanding regarding the three-dimensional printing and performance of Cu, Ag and CuAg alloys.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part L: Journal of Materials: Design and Applications
Early online date8 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: This research was conducted with support from the European Commission Research Grant 32R19P03053, University of Wolverhampton, Additive Analytics Ltd and EOS GmbH.

Publisher Copyright:
© IMechE 2021.


  • additive manufacturing
  • Ag
  • copper
  • Cu
  • diffusivity
  • laser powder bed fusion
  • mechanical performance
  • silver
  • Thermal performance


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