Photochemical Copper Coating on 3D Printed Thermoplastics

Winco K.C. Yung, Bo Sun, Junfeng Huang, Yingdi Jin, Zhengong Meng, Hang Shan Choy, Zhixiang Cai, Guijun Li*, Cheuk Lam HO, Jinlong Yang, Wai Yeung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


3D printing using thermoplastics has become very popular in recent years, however, it is challenging to provide a metal coating on 3D objects without using specialized and expensive tools. Herein, a novel acrylic paint containing malachite for coating on 3D printed objects is introduced, which can be transformed to copper via one-step laser treatment. The malachite containing pigment can be used as a commercial acrylic paint, which can be brushed onto 3D printed objects. The material properties and photochemical transformation processes have been comprehensively studied. The underlying physics of the photochemical synthesis of copper was characterized using density functional theory calculations. After laser treatment, the surface coating of the 3D printed objects was transformed to copper, which was experimentally characterized by XRD. 3D printed prototypes, including model of the Statue of Liberty covered with a copper surface coating and a robotic hand with copper interconnections, are demonstrated using this painting method. This composite material can provide a novel solution for coating metals on 3D printed objects. The photochemical reduction analysis indicates that the copper rust in malachite form can be remotely and photo-chemically reduced to pure copper with sufficient photon energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31188
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • General


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