As the applications for additive manufacturing have continued to grow, so too has the range of available materials, with more functional or better performing materials constantly under development. This work characterizes a copper-filled polyamide 6 (PA6) thermoplastic composite designed to enhance the thermal conductivity of fused filament fabrication (FFF) parts, especially for heat transfer applications. The composite was mixed and extruded into filament using twin screw extrusion. Because the fiber orientation within the material governs the thermal conductivity of the material, the orientation was measured in the filament, through the nozzle, and in printed parts using micro-computed tomography. The thermal conductivity of the material was measured and achieved 4.95, 2.38, and 0.75 W/(m·K) at 70 °C in the inflow, crossflow, and thickness directions, respectively. The implications of this anisotropy are discussed using the example of an air-to-water crossflow heat exchanger. The lower conductivity in the crossflow direction reduces thermal performance due to the orientation in thin-walled parts.
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