High-throughput 3D printers for complex ceramic parts
Additive manufacturing is re-defining what can or cannot be accomplished in the production of parts, and research continues to redefine what can and cannot be accomplished with additive manufacturing. An EU-funded project has set out to break new ground for the 3D printing of complex ceramic components.
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The ToMax project is dedicated to the development of integrated lithography-based additive manufacturing systems for the production of ceramic parts with particularly complex shapes. Components such as these are of interest for applications in areas as diverse as medicine and the aerospace industry.
Partners from seven countries are involved in this project to advance the state of the art which is led by the Technical University of Vienna. They intend to provide high-throughput 3D printers as well as improved materials, and they have set themselves clear objectives with regard to resource efficiency.
These goals notably include devising methods that are 25 % more material efficient and 35 % more energy efficient than current additive manufacturing technologies. The prospective material efficiency gains compared to existing 3D printing approaches are to be accomplished, in part, by optimising geometries with the help of computational modelling.
Further improvements will be sought through work on the structures that are printed out to support the part while it is taking shape. The partners intend to shift towards recyclable wash-away supports, an advance which would help to put more of the material to good use and reduce the amount of post-processing required.
Launched in January 2015, the project has already reported a number of successes. A new class of high-performance 3D-printers with excellent feature resolution and increased build volume has been set up, the partners note.
Modifications in their system now enable it to print out silicon nitride parts with outstanding properties, they add. The initiation of a world-first life cycle assessment of lithography-based additive manufacturing technology also ranks prominently among the consortiums achievements to date.