Researchers at HRL Laboratories have developed a 3D printing technology designed to overcome the limitations of working with traditional ceramic processing. The process includes a resin formulation that once printed can be fired and converted into a ceramic that is harder, stronger and more compatible with ultra-high temperatures.
Traditional ceramics are more difficult to work with than polymers or metals because they cannot be cast or machined as easily. They tend to be more porous which also limits the kinds of shapes you can make and the strength of the finished parts.
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The process developed by the HRL team can create a ceramic material that is said to be ten times stronger than similar materials and can withstand temperatures in excess of 1700°C. The 3D printed ceramics are expected to also be more resistant to abrasion and corrosion.
Potential applications could include large components in jet engines to intricate parts in micro-electromechanical systems and electronic device packaging.
The following video explains the process in more detail.
Source: HRL LaboratoriesView gallery - 7 images