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Ceramics and Metals: Direct or Indirect Additive Manufacturing? Pros & Cons

Do you want to produce Technical Materials such as Ceramics and Metals by SLA DLP 3D printing?

Production of Technical Ceramics and Metals by SLA/DLP 3D printing can be achieved with very high detail and resolution of complex and intricate end use technical products, including:

  • medical devices; analyzing equipment, endoscopy equipment, instrumentation, etc…
  • dentistry: crowns, implants, copings and bridges
  • jewelry: brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches
  • industrial applications: fit and functional end use mechanical products, tools, fixtures and jigs, molds, microreactors, technically demmanding mechanical parts/pieces, etc…
  • biomedical: prosthesis, implants, surgical cutting guides
  • others

There are 2 types of production processes by Stereolithography:

  • Direct Production: direct printing of ceramics and metals with expensive and dedicated ceramic and metal SLA DLP 3D printers
  • Indirect Production: indirect production of ceramics and metals with traditional CIM and MIM resin slurries with durable and/or water soluble sacrificial molds printed with low cost SLA, DLP and LCD 3D printers

Our 3Dresyns for Direct Printing or Production of Ceramic and Metals have these common features and benefits:

  • excellent dispersibility and flow of post added micron and submicron ceramics and metals
  • the ceramic or metal  additions can be up to 45-50% volume concentrations with good flow and without sedimentation
  • soluble systems in water and solvents for faster debinding
  • very high resolution 3D printing for very high detail and resolution applications
  • high print quality and speed with curing wavelengths up to 410 nm and higher upon request
  • controlled and reproducible process shrinkage
  • minimum expansion coefficient and risk of micro-cracking during debinding
  • very low viscosity and excellent flow and wetting of final slurries
  • printable by adapted SLA, DLP 3D printers with laser, LED & DLP projectors

Typical properties of Technical Ceramics and Metals

Technical materials

Flexural Strength    (MPa)

Fracture Toughness    (MPa√m)

Vickers Hardness HV(GPa)

Tensile strength (MPa)

Compression strength (MPa)

Properties and Benefits

Ceramics

300-1200

4-10

10-20

1000-1500

2000-3000

Superior properties dependant on the selected technical ceramic material for highly technical applications and for production of complex and intricate end use technical products at very high resolution

Metals

200-1200

10-300

200-400

300-1000

300-1000

Superior properties dependant on the selected technical metal material for highly technical applications and for production of complex and intricate end use technical products at very high resolution


We can help you to produce Ceramics and Metals via Direct Printing (with its inherent limitations) and via Indirect Production (injection of traditional ceramic or metal slurries in durable or water soluble sacrificial molds)

Our 3Dresyns for direct printing Technical Ceramics and Metals can be customised to partially dissolve fast in water to speed up the debinding process 3-5 times and the overall sintering cycle. They provide excellent dimensional stability and contribute to overcoming the existing limiting maximum feature thickness of 1-2 mm due to microcracking issues.

Our existing 3Dresyns for Direct Printing of Ceramics can be printed with the following Technical Ceramics in SLA DLP 3D printers:

  • alumina
  • zirconia
  • glass
  • hydroxyapatite
  • aluminum titanate (excellent thermal shock resistance)
  • aluminum nitride (very high thermal conductivity and excellent electrical insulation)
  • silicon carbide (hardest and lighest ceramic with excellent thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion and high chemical resistance)
  • silicon nitride (excellent thermal shock resistance and high fracture toughness with excellent impact and shock resistance)
  • piezo ceramics (for power transducers: ultrasonic applications, sensors: ultrasonic transmitters and receivers, actuators: precision positioning or injection systems)
  • others

Ceramic & Metal 3D resins for Direct Printing or Production of Ceramic and Metals can be custom designed to meet specific performance properties but acknowledge that Direct 3D printing of ceramic and metal parts have inherent technical limitations in comparison to Indirect Production of ceramic and metal parts.

Pros & Cons of Direct Printing vs Indirect Manufacturing / Production of Technical Ceramics and Metals

Direct 3D Printing of ceramics and metals with Stereolithography SLA and jetting printers has presented great technological challenges and limitations in recent years. Adjusting the printing parameters for each ceramic and metal 3D resin is a slow and complex process. Opaque materials limit printing to thin layers of a few microns, such as 10-20 microns in stainless steel printing. The necessary use of a relatively higher percentage of photopolymer 3D resin binders c.15% vs 5% binders (which debind with less risk of microcraking) used in traditional CIM and MIM slurries, in order to provide 3D printability, hinders and slows the debinding and sintering process, making the production process too slow (7 days) vs vonventional CIM and MIM production processes..

Other key limitation is the maximum thickness of the printed pieces to about 1-2 mm, due to the tendency to suffer microcracking due to the excessive % of 3D photopolymer 3D resins in the ceramic and metal resin slurries used in direct 3D printing of ceramics and metals with stereolithography SLA and jetting printers vs conventional CIM and MIM binders which debind with less risk of microcracking.

The 3Dresyns team has developed water soluble 3D resins with the aim of providing solutions to the limitations of direct printing of ceramics and metals by 3D stereolithography and jetting. Our water soluble 3d resins allow their use as:

  • water soluble binders to reduce debinding and sintering times in direct 3D printing of ceramics and metals with SLA and Jetting but still need fine tuning of each ceramic and metal ohotopolymer 3D resin in the printer.
  • durable and non durable sacrificial molds for the subsequent injection of ceramic and metal feedstocks. This process has several technical and productive advantages since the use of traditional ceramic and metal feedstocks show process improvements such as:
    • simplicity, once the injection mold 3D resin is tuned in the printer, it will permit its use for injecting any material, overcoming the complex and time consuming process of fine tuning each ceramic and metal photopolymer 3D resin in the printer
    • less risk of microcracking
    • less thickness limitation
    • higher debinding and sintering speed
    • 100% isotropy
    • improved final properties: higher density, lower microporosity of sintered materials 

Benefits of Indirect Processes for Manufacturing  Ceramics & Metals

Our water soluble 3D resins allow printing of high-resolution injection molds in affordable SLA, DLP and LCD 3D printers. This combined with the use of traditional ceramic and metal slurries and feedstocks in injection units using water soluble sacrificial molds printed with our water soluble 3D resins, allow the production of complex shaped ceramic and metal parts with the following technical and cost benefits compared to existing more expensive and less productive methods:

  • full range of technical ceramics and metals slurries can be cast using traditional CIM and MIM feedstocks
  • higher sintering density, lower microporosity vs metal Selective Laser Sintering SLS and direct printing of ceramics and metals by SLA and jetting
  • less productive limitations, much faster and ecological debinding without solvents, with water for faster debinding and sintering times without limitation of thickness vs. ceramic and metal printing by SLA and jetting
  • increased isotropy vs metal Selective Laser Sintering SLS and direct printing of ceramics and metals by SLA and jetting 
  • lower costs since our soluble resins allow the printing of sacrificial or durable molds with affordable SLA, DLP and LCD printers with prices ranging from 300 to 2000 Euros and with traditional  injection units and traditional ceramic and metal feedstocks

Click on these links to find more about our Indirect Process or Production for Manufacturing Technical Ceramics and Metals via injection molding of :

Click on these links to find more about our customised traditional ceramic and metal binder slurries for Indirect Process Production of Technical Ceramics and Metals via injection molding:

Discover our contribution to Ceramics manufacturing;

Please contact us to consult about our custom designed 3Dresyns and your specific performance goals at info@3Dresyns.com