Articles

Ceramic 3D printer aids engineers

Ceramic 3D printer aids engineers

Using a 3D ceramic printer for exotic materials like ceramic and metal is now possible. In fact it is available at an industrial level as well as on your desktop. Yes indeed, it is now possible for anyone to manufacture fabulous parts with the unique material properties of ceramic.

For example silicon carbide, alumina and zirconia.

There are many other ceramics to be used too, which you can discover below! It is now possible for you to join designers and engineers and use these materials as they do. This technology is being used for research and development of jewellery and general custom designed artifacts. All of which benefit from being printed with ceramic resin and filament on a 3D ceramic printer.

A number of processes can be used to create 3D printed ceramics including binder jetting, FFF and SLA. In principle they all build parts layer by layer. However, above all, if you are looking to invest in a ceramic printer we recommend the following.

Firstly you get a handle of what you require. Secondly understand which process best suits your needs. As each process has certain advantages.

It is not unusual to install a couple of technologies. This way many of our customers have the flexibility to overcome any engineering challenge. They are capable of printing in various ways.

Material Properties

Our printers use the same materials used in conventional process. So you will see it is possible to create parts in alumina, zirconia, silicon nitride which have the following properties;

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

Applications

Firstly, typical applications include, aerospace defense, aviation, investment casting, electronic, optical, medical and luxury markets. Secondly ceramic materials should replace many parts made of metal.

Certainly, we believe it is likely these applications would benefit from the material properties of technical ceramics. 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 this is a company using a ceramic 3D printer for the development of their Venturi burner products. 3D printing a Venturi burner is the perfect example of a part which requires extreme temperature resistance with a ‘fresh’ design. Indeed, the shape of the venturi burner will determine the performance in the oven. The 3D printing process allows for greater freedom of design and allows for ‘all shapes and sizes’!

The cone design of the venturi burner determines the size of the flame and thus the temperature and the oven atmosphere. A broad cone triggers the perfect flame, whereas a narrow cone reduces it. Indeed, for heating equipment a venturi burner is an important feature. The ability to change the flame with a modern design is a real competitive advantage

Ceramic or Metal

In the past ceramic has been more complicated to produce than steel. So ceramic was often not used for many applications even though it is the most suitable material. Indeed, this ceramic can cope with 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 3D printing. Now ceramic parts are no longer 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.

Ceramic 3D printing example; ceramic ring

When scientific research focuses on ceramic 3D printing

As we know 3D printing offers an opportunity for product development. And so it has become a growing field for research. Below are some links which give you the opportunity to read some scientific articles regarding such areas.

Building parts with an optimized design allows them to be more efficient. . A 3D printed part allows a more compact design which often provides parts with a significant saving in the total mass. Indeed, there are many examples of this in the field of industry.

High temperature properties of 3D printed ceramic parts

As such, the tool of choice for precise parts made of ceramic is laser Stereolithography (SLA). This is due to accuracy and repeatability of SLA. One particular study that confirms this provides details on the stability of the thermo-mechanical properties of 3D printed ceramic parts.

As a short summary of the study. Three-dimensional parts were printed then mechanically tested to obtain tensile strengths (<1000MPa) and good hardness (>13 GPa) demonstrate excellent results. Impressively a densification measure was at 98% after sintering.

Alumina filaments’ mechanical and thermal properties

Another area of significant and interesting research evaluated the elastic and thermal properties of SLA 3D printed alumina.

Users of 3DCeram’s alumina formulation developed several simulation models to anticipate its mechanical and thermal properties. The outcome proposes a predictive outcome that accounts for variation of the microstructure. Therefore this manufacturing process ensuring predictable and repeatable results. Full details of the study are available through the authors published research.

Structural anisotropy of 3D printed parts

Structural anisotropy of 3D printed ceramic parts is a key consideration. The purpose of this study is to acknowledge the affect of varying build direction of parts printed in zirconia.

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 provide the best 3D printers on the market. So we only work with the leading manufacturers of Additive Manufacturing. We are keen to work with customers to enhance and develop the 3D printing ceramics market.

In conclusion, we specialise in the design, printing and post processing of head wearing materials including ceramic and metals. Could a ceramic 3D printer be something your organisation needs? Could for example 3D printed zirconia and alumina filaments be an advantage to your next project? In the first instance we might be able to help you get your parts using our 3D printing service.

We often have webinars planned so that we can share and demonstrate more about the technology. Feel free to register for future events on below.

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.

Get in touch