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3D Printing Materials

3D Printing Materials

Materials used in 3D printing have fast become become the most important concern for the 3D printing industry. There has been a focus for many years on the hardware used to create parts. However, in recent years the technological advancement has been delivered by chemists focused on creating materials without compromising on their performance.

So what are the required material properties?

The target is to provide engineers with materials that have been used in other forming processes for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Engineers want to use these materials in the same ways as they have done before irrespective of the forming process. So ideally a 3D printed parts has exactly the same performance.

Many material manufacturers have produced materials called for example; ABS ‘like’. Simply a material they can’t replicate and falls woefully short on performance. Engineers simply want to have materials that perform in the environments and conditions like their favourite application specific materials. Materials for 3D printing simply had to get better and the focus is now on to bring these to market.

FDM printing material

Superior performance of ceramic materials

We are always asked; What are ceramics materials used for? Are plates, pottery and porcelain tiles examples of ceramic? Well, in short, yes they are! The traditional ceramic family tend to be clay based so include; earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and bone china. Then, there are advanced ceramics which are oxides and non-oxides rather than clay based ceramics.

Manufacturing process

There are a few ways to make ceramic parts. You will find most information on this website concerning the process of 3D printing complex shapes in advance ceramics. You can learn more about our services on our Products page. The main point regarding the manufacturing process is that it doesn’t matter. With ceramic materials the performance is the same regardless of the manufacturing process.

Advanced ceramics

The 3D printing material Industry is most interested in Advanced ceramics or Technical ceramics as these are hard wearing and suitable for high temperature or wearing environments. Advance ceramics are broken down into two categories; oxides like alumina and zirconia and non-oxide ceramics such as carbides, nitrides, borides and silicides. Examples of these would be Silicon nitride and Silicon carbide.

Material Properties

Ceramic materials have fantastic material properties for certain parts like bearings, dental implants, space components that require;

  • Good mechanical strength
  • High hardness
  • Resistance to thermal shock
  • Very resistance to wear and high temperatures
  • Good electrical insulation
  • Resistant to corrosion; liquids, gas and abrasion
  • Biocompatible
  • Review the properties of ceramic materials used in our printers by visiting our materials guide.

Applications

Firstly, ceramic is a useful material in aerospace, aviation, investment casting, electronic, optical, medical and luxury markets and applications. Secondly and most controversially, ceramic materials should replace many parts made of metal. Certainly, we believe is is likely these applications would benefit from the material properties of technical ceramics. In short, if you would like to discuss a project where the material properties of ceramic could help please get in touch.

A real case study

A great example of a project that used the 3D printing materials of ceramic is that of a company producing Venturi burners. 3D printing ceramics for a Venturi burner is the perfect example of a part which requires extreme temperature resistance and customisation. Indeed, the shape of the venturi burner will determine the performance in the oven.

Therefore, the cone angle of the venturi burner determines the size of the flame and thus the temperature and the oven atmosphere. A broad cone triggers an oxidizing flame, whereas a narrow cone produces a reducing flame. Indeed, for portable heating equipment a venturi burner is an intrinsic component. The ability to change the flames characteristic by customising the design with ceramic 3D printing is a real competitive advantage.

Ceramic or Metal

Ceramic can withstand temperatures up to 1500°C. Moreover, it’s wear and corrosion resistance is higher than that of metal, prolonging the useful life of the part. Importantly, the internal channels of a venturi burner are quite complex to produce using conventional ceramic manufacturing processes.

Thus, making a custom designed venturi burner in ceramic impossible without ceramic 3D printing. Alumina made parts are not more complicated than other materials to produce. 3D printing makes it possible to print internal channels, hollowed out parts as well as overhangs. Moreover, by internalising the process, producing a part requires less than a week offering great flexibility to designers.

3D Matters have searched the market for the best fully functional and proven capable technologies. It is for this reason that we are proud to work with the leading manufacturers of Additive Manufacturing equipment.

In conclusion, 3D printing materials have developed greatly in recent times so that engineers can obtain the performance they need. 3D Matters specialise in the design, printing and post processing of hard wearing materials including ceramic and metals. Could the material properties of ceramic be an advantage to your next project?

You can learn more about our services on our Products page.

Have a project similar to this?

We’re always happy to discuss potential new projects and ideas. Get in touch, either via email or phone and we can help make your idea a reality.

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