MoldMax Alloy for Optics (Copper Nickel Tin)

Durability, Material and Composition

When good thermal conductivity and strength are important for optical mirrors, MoldMax alloy is a popular selection. This alloy contains copper, nickel and tin which offers improved hardness comparatively against tooling steel, with the ability to convey three times the heat conductivity.

Typically this alloy is available in rounds, square and rectangular bars, and plate to allow a wide range of shapes and sizing when designing and creating your custom optics.

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Working with MoldMax – Fabrication Process

MoldMax can be chemically brightened by using sulfuric acid wash with water under an exhaust hood. Any light corrosion may also be chemically removed by immersing in a 20% ammonium hydroxide solution or hydrochloric acid solution.

Moldmax is able to expertly machined with diamond turning and other milling machines with carbide or high speed steel, which allows for a wide variety of customizations – tapping, drilling, or welding to create your final custom design.

When used for mirror optics, this alloy can be highly polished and coated making it a highly desirable material.

Applications for Usage

Typically used for plastic tooling and injection molds, MoldMax XL is used by CMM Optic to create metal optic mirrors for military optics and other freeform optics in our Troy, Michigan facility. Options can be, but not limited to:

  • biconvex lens
  • convex curved mirrors
  • freeform optics
  • plano convex lens

Cupernickel Alloys for Optics (Copper Tin)

Cupernickel Alloy – Durability, Material and Composition

Cupernickel (copper-nickel) may contain a range of nickel (2% – 30%) to qualify as copper-nickel and is considered desirable as a material for metal optics used in high corrosion or thermal stress environments such as marine or aerospace applications. Copper alloys are also favorable as they do not react with ammonia or ammonium compounds. The tensile strength of annealed copper-nickel is higher than low-carbon steel, 304 stainless steel or 3004 aluminum and therefore is excellent for working with casting and CNC milling processes. Copper alloys are also able to be recycled fully. As this alloy does tarnish, optics containing copper or copper alloys are recommended to have a transparent protective coating applied or be used in an environment that will not cause oxidation.


Nominal Composition

Tensile Strength Ksi (MPa)

Copper Nickel, 10%

10 Ni  -1.4 Fe

65 (448)

Copper Nickel, 30%

30 Ni – 0.7 Fe

74 (503)

Cupernickel Alloy –  Fabrication Process

Offering a high level of versatility, cupernickel can be rolled, extruded, hot formed, molded, forged and cold formed. Typically, mirror optics are created by single point diamond turning process at CMM Optic to create convex curved mirrors, freeform optics or precision laser mirrors.

Cupernickel is also able to be bonded with adhesives to other types of materials and metals, as well as easily welded.

Commonly, cupernickel is required to be plated onto other materials and highly polished for instrumentation for industrial and scientific applications. This process may provide additional hardness, resistance to elements and reduces wear.

Applications for Usage

Copper has been used for thousands of years to create mirrors and more recently as reflective optics for telescopes. As copper offers high thermal transmission combined with high reflectivity (over 90%) it is desirable for use as a part of high intensity laser systems. In addition, metal optics can be created very small to quite large in size.

Biomedical, military, safety, and aerospace technologies, along with simple to highly complex laser technology systems, benefit from the strength and versatility of cupernickel as an optic material.

CMM Optic supplies diamond-turned precision cupernickel optics made to your specifications. Our state-of-the-art metrology lab ensures that each optic meets your requirements. For more information on metal optics or selecting the right material for your custom project, please speak with one of our engineers who can recommend the right material for the best functionality and associated cost.