PIONEER IN DIRECT MANUFACTURING OF CERAMICS BY ADDITIVE TECHNOLOGIES, THE CTTC USES ITS EXPERTISE ON CERAMIC FORMULATIONS AND PROCESSES THAT PUSH THE CURRENT LIMITS OF MANUFACTURING 3D CERAMIC PARTS.
Additive manufacturing technologies (or 3D printing in the public domain) construct parts with very complex shapes in three dimensions, through the addition of material.
Additive manufacturing of ceramics uses the same design and manufacturing processes as those used for plastic or metal parts (see the manufacturing chain described below). However, sintering shrinkage of the material must be considered during the CAD step as well as any deformations of the part. Additive manufacturing amenities are adapted to take account of the specific ceramic feedstocks.
In general, additive manufacturing of ceramics is considered as the shaping step in the manufacturing process, from raw material preparation to the firing step, and even the product finishings (rectification of certain dimensions). The advantage of this technology is the ability to achieve highly complex objects close to their final near-net-shape without the need to develop specific tools.
There are many additive technologies that can be classified according to the type of process (powder, liquid or solid method), or according to 7 major classes of processes adopted by ASTM International. Specific ceramic technologies now cover all of these classes (see classification below).
Layer-to-layer technologies, such as selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA) or 3D printing on a powder bed are used to make parts in various materials: alumina, zirconia, HAP, nitride aluminium, porcelain, etc. Their microstructures, mechanical and aesthetic properties, and their manufacturing costs are, however, very different depending on the methods employed. The most appropriate technology should be selected depending on the technical and economic prerequisites.
Technologies by direct deposition of materials, such as controlled extrusion processes, fused filament (FFF processes or robocasting), inkjet or aerosol spray printing, are used to place different types of materials in the same layer. Multi-material objects (e.g. ceramic A / ceramic B or ceramic / metal) are achievable either by the successive manufacture of various materials, or by simultaneous production (which will require co-firing).
To extend the limits of additive manufacturing of ceramics technologies, the CTTC develops new concepts and processes within the ALTERINOV platform or its FabLab Easyceram with the aim to meet the following challenges:
- Facilitate the development of new products (rapid prototyping, reduce the time-to-market);
- Develop new additive technologies (INPACT Project) or hybrid technologies (Smart3DPrinting Project);
- Bring new features to materials and components (3D / multi-material approach);
- Implement these technologies in a digital chain on an industrial scale (Factory of the Future);
- Accompany the change in jobs and economic models (FabLab).