ThinKing April - DODUCO introduces a hybrid material AlCu made of aluminum and copper



DODUCO GmbH has developed two hybrid metal bonds through a high-tech fusion of copper and aluminum.

Thanks to its extensive know-how base, DODUCO can offer a wide range of hybrid bonds and material forms. The company's service spectrum not only covers flat surface materials, but also overlapping material bonds.

Different metals have their own individual conductive properties for electric current and heat. Aluminum is one of the best performing metals for both purposes. Copper is an even better conductor, however it is much heavier and significantly more expensive.

Aluminum weighs only half as much as copper

DODUCO GmbH based in Pforzheim, Germany has made it its goal to develop ways of combining both materials in order to unleash new technological possibilities. This is achieved through the development of two types of bonds:
1. Overlapping bonds – Metal strips, i.e. copper on the right side and aluminum on the left
2. Surface bonds – Metal plates, i.e. copper on top and aluminum on the bottom used in the manufacture of high performance heatsinks or substrate parts

Modern automobiles increasingly implement aluminum as an electrical conductor. In today’s cars, most of the electric cables are made out of aluminum. The cross section of the aluminum components required to conduct the same amount of electricity is about 1.6 times greater than copper, but in comparison aluminum weighs only half as much.

DODUCO replaces expensive copper with aluminium

Unfortunately, aluminum also has its disadvantages, with the result that not every copper part can be replaced by aluminum. By its nature, aluminum is a relatively soft metal and can bend and slip easily under mechanical stress which can cause screws or crimp connections to come loose. These properties create the need for a reliable transition between copper and aluminum components.

DODUCO’s solution is a hybrid material in which the expensive copper material is partially replaced by cheaper and lighter aluminum. “The substitution with aluminum has advantages from a cost and weight standpoint,” notes Heiko Kuntz, sales manager for electrical contact materials at DODUCO.

Materials are used in electric mobility applications

With its hybrid material, DOCUCO is able to firmly bond the two metals through a cold rolling process and cement the bond in a hot oven. The lightly overlapping boded materials are used in electric mobility applications for lithium-ion batteries in electric cars or as connectors on aluminum wiring harnesses. With overlapping metal layers, widths of up to 100 millimeters and a thickness of up to 3 millimeters can be produced.

A key challenge is protecting from corrosion – a vital aspect in automotive applications. The company uses a special organic coating to protect the metals from moisture and salt. The company also uses special innovative organic and inorganic coatings to protect the metals from damage from moisture and saltwater.

Modern automotive vehicles use more and more high energy electronics

In contrast to the overlapping bonds, the surface bond material hybrids are primarily used as heatsinks for high power electrical applications. Modern automotive vehicles use more and more high energy electronics which create a lot of heat. Copper is a better conductor of heat in comparison to aluminum. Heatsinks in high power electronics are usually made out of extruded aluminum, but can achieve much better conductivity when combined with copper.

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