Ceramic 3d printing

In December ’12 Formatec introduced the ceramic printing technology. The overwhelming technology interest encouraged Formatec to continue developments in this new field of expertise.

In order to continue the developments at the right pace technology partners ECN and Innotech Europe joined the project. Shortly after the project name ADMATEC was defined. ADMATEC develops a wide range of printing solutions for ceramics. Material, machine and process developments are all done within the group.

It is the absolute aim to become the market leader for printing ceramic materials. In order to fulfill this aim efficiently the group decided to invest in a Cerafab 7500 from Lithoz. Adding Lithoz’s LCM technology to the project completely underlines the strong commitment to become a market leader in this field of expertise.

Development of printing technologies continues within the group as well. The in-house developed technology emerged on several fundamental points, now calling it the ADMAFLEX® technology. Main focus is to break down limitations on precision, building size and building speed. Secondly material research is a critical development factor. Reducing costs and widening the range of materials are clear objectives. These material developments will not be limited to ceramics, on the middle long-term a pre-defined range of metals will be developed as well, while the process is suitable for all powder materials.

At this stage detailed technical information of the process cannot be shared due to proprietary considerations.

Together with the technology developments, ADMATEC explores new market segments with both systems, the Cerafab and the ADMAFLEX®. By combining both technologies ADMATEC can supply small/precise parts, but also larger parts in higher volume. The market seems to be discovering this technology sooner than expected, resulting in challenging requirements on a frequent basis.

Ahead lies an ambitious development plan with clear milestones and deliverables for commercial and technical challenges. The current status, combined with the Cerafab 7500 capabilities, plus the outcomes of the development plan will uniquely position ADMATEC in this new market segment.

De Formatec DLP printer

Proces
Het CAD model van het product wordt door speciale software opgedeeld in laagjes. Deze laagjes worden vervolgens door de DLP – Chip geprojecteerd op de bodem van het reservoir. In het reservoir bevindt zich een fotopolymeer gevuld met keramisch poeder. Tijdens de projectie wordt fotopolymeer geactiveerd en hardt de kunststof / keramiek combinatie uit. Nadat dit gebeurd is, beweegt de Z-as omhoog en start de belichting voor de volgende laag.

Als alle lagen gereed zijn, dan is product opgebouwd uit een combinatie van kunststof en keramiek, gelijk aan een ‘groen’ gespuitgiet product. Alle, voor Formatec, gebruikelijke processtappen als debinden en sinteren moeten dan nog uitgevoerd worden om tot een volledig functioneel keramisch product te komen.

De Formatec DLP printer
De Formatec DLP Printer is ontworpen voor het maken van kleine hoognauwkeurige onderdelen;

 Eenheid  Waarde
 Resolutie  um  40
 Laagdikte  um  25 – 100
 Snelheid  mm/h  2.5
 DLP Chip  pixels  1980 x 1080
 Bouw platform  mm  76 x 43

Applications
This technology is aiming for three type of market segments in multiple industries. Such as high tech components for machine asssembly, medical parts as dental applications and implants, heat exchangers, Aerospace and many more.

Typical market segments are:

Prototypes
Producing ceramic prototypes are a costly and time consuming process using traditional available technologies. Applying the AM technology a lot size of one can be applied and the throughput time is very short.   Moreover, costly technologies as grinding and/or mould manufacturing do not need to be applied.

Typically prototypes are used during the design phase. Using the print technology it is very cost effective to apply changes to the design.

Small scale series production
This technology will be applied in small series production. Batch sizes just greater than the usual batch size for grinding applications and not big enough for ceramic injection moulding will find a application with print technology. Typical parts will have a complex design, highly accurate and relative small size.

Serie production
These products that are just not able to be produced with any of the current available technologies. Undercuts, complex shaped cooling channels, thin wall, mesh shaping, are just a few examples that can not be shaped with any of the traditional technologies in ceramics. For these designs the printing technology will be used for production purposes.

Technology Advantages / Disadvantages

 Advantages
 Disadvantages
 No tooling costs  Limited product thickness +/- 2.5mm
 Series production for complex shaped products  Relative slow production process
 Prototype with full functional properties  Limited selection of material availibility
 Extreme high freedom of design  Engineer support structures might apply (depending on design)
 No costs for design changing
 High precision through high resolution
 Rapid throughput times

 

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