Structural Ceramics

3D Printing has been used to prototype complex-shaped structural ceramic components by spreading sub-micron powders and printing an organic binder. The green parts are removed, then isostatically pressed and sintered to densify the component. The binder is removed by thermal decomposition.

With this process one can:

  • Obtain a complex-shaped ceramic prototype at very low cost.

  • Evaluate properties of the final material in environments where the component will be used.

  • Manufacture components from composite materials with internal structures that can not be made any other way.

Parts have been printed with ceramic materials systems including alumina, silicon nitride, and PZT. As-printed and fired samples of parts are shown.

The standard 3DPTM process has been modified to directly produce parts with sub-micron powder and high green density. The newly developed slurry-based 3DPTM process enables layers as thin as 10 microns to be deposited. The process is sufficiently generic to be adapted to new materials systems. The powder bed is cohesive, and the part is retrieved by re-dispersing the unprinted regions in a water bath.

Sintered silicon nitride is an ideal material to evaluate in the 3D Printing process, since a large database exists for its properties. It is often considered as a structural ceramic material by the automotive industry. The shapes required for applications are often complex and are subject to high reciprocating or centrifugal loads (turbocharger rotors, for example). Designers will often make subtle changes to the final shape of the component to reduce peak stress in the material during service.

Structual alumina part before and after sintering

Sintered silicon-nitride part

Silicon-nitride component

Silicon-nitride component

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This web site is maintained by Julie Baars Kaczynski
Last updated on Wednesday, June 28, 2000