Ceramic 3D Printing Breakthrough?


3D Print with Ceramics? Surely you jest? Until recently items have been limited to polymer plastics, a handful of metals, plastics and some biomaterials. But now, according to HRL Laboratories, a breakthrough in 3d ceramic printing has been achieved.

Additive Manufacturing of Polymer-Derived Ceramics

"The extremely high melting point of many ceramics adds challenges to additive manufacturing as compared with metals and polymers. Because ceramics cannot be cast or machined easily, three-dimensional (3D) printing enables a big leap in geometrical flexibility. We report preceramic monomers that are cured with ultraviolet light in a stereolithography 3D printer or through a patterned mask, forming 3D polymer structures that can have complex shape and cellular architecture. These polymer structures can be pyrolyzed to a ceramic with uniform shrinkage and virtually no porosity. Silicon oxycarbide microlattice and honeycomb cellular materials fabricated with this approach exhibit higher strength than ceramic foams of similar density.

New Resin Formulation

"HRL’s Senior Chemical Engineer Zak Eckel and Senior Chemist Dr. Chaoyin Zhou invented a resin formulation that can be 3D printed into parts of virtually any shape and size. The printed resin can then be fired, converting it into a high strength, fully dense ceramic.

Why is this Important?

The resulting material can withstand ultra-high temperatures in excess of 1700°C and exhibits strength ten times higher than similar materials.

The HRL team’s research paper, "Additive Manufacturing of Polymer Derived Ceramics," has been published in the January 1st issue of Science.