For the first time it is possible to 3D print ceramics with high accuracy, fine detail and high density and strength. Austria-based Lithoz, a spin-off of the Technical University of Vienna launched their CeraFab 7500 ceramic 3D printer and showcased at this year's Euromold.
Using Lithoz's patented Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) process, the CeraFab 7500 is a complete system for the production of dense and precise high-performance ceramic parts. It is a flexible and durable plug & play network-printer which works completely independent from any other device.
The LCM-process is based on the selective curing of a photosensitive resin which contains homogeneously dispersed ceramic particles. The Photopolymers act as binder between the ceramic particles and make the precise shaping and high densities of the green body.
The centerpiece of the process is a specifically designed imaging system that enables the transfer of the layer information by means of the latest LED-technology. This imaging technique along with special projection optics allows the production of small structures and very fine details.
In analogy to powder injection molding, the shaped form is produced as a green body that has to be further processed to obtain a completely dense ceramic part. These post-processing steps include the debinding and the subsequent sintering into a compact ceramic part. This procedure eventually results in parts consisting of 100% ceramic material which exhibit mechanical properties equal to conventionally fabricated parts.
"The density (> 99,4 % of the theoretical density) and the strength (4-point bending strength of 430 MPa for alumina) is comparable to traditional ceramic forming technologies. So we are achieving the same mechanical and thermal properties as any other ceramic forming process. We are applying no finishing, but you can see on the pictures (images below) how smooth the surface is. The precision of our CeraFab 7500 is really good. The resolution is 40 µm and we can make smallest structures down to 100 µm. Also the tolerances after sintering are very good. They are far below 1 %." said Dr. Johannes Homa, Lithoz's CEO.
The layer thickness varies between 25 microns and 100 microns depending on the components. CeraFab 7500 can print a two-centimeter object in approx. 800 layers with 25 microns layer thickness. The printing speed for such a 25 micron layer thickness structure is three millimeters per hour, depending on the component, the whole process takes about four to eight hours.
(Click to enlarge)
The CeraFab 7500 ceramic 3D printer uses the same ceramic material as the serial production. It guarantees the same properties for serial components and provides significant savings in costs and time. It can be used for the economic fabrication of ceramic prototypes and small scale series production. The price of the CeraFab 7500 is €220,000.
"The CeraFab 7500 has been ready for shipment since summer this year and there are already some machines in the market." says Dr. Homa.
- Building envelope (X,Y,Z): 76 mm x 43 mm x 150 mm
- Slice thickness: 25 – 100 μm
- Building velocity: Up to 100 slices per hour
- Lateral resolution: 40 μm (635 dpi)
- Number of pixel (X, Y): 1920 x 1080
- Light source: LED
- Network-connection: Ethernet
- Data format: .stl (binary)
- Electrical requirements: AC 230 V / 50-60 Hz
- Machine size (X, Y, Z): 1,2 m x 0,6 m x 1,8 m
- Weight: Approx. 250 kg
Here are some high detail prints made on the CeraFab 7500. (click on these photos to see high resolution enlargement)
All images copyright: Hans Ringhofer
Posted in 3D Printers
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Paolo dicicco wrote at 3/19/2013 8:02:34 PM:
I need information and a contact phone
JC wrote at 1/31/2013 3:59:06 PM:
Does this machine need support structure? How to remove the structures if there are almost the same size as the features on the part?
Johannes Homa wrote at 12/13/2012 9:53:04 AM:
The strength of a ceramic material is usually measured in a 3 or 4-point bending test. Tensile tests are not very common in ceramics. The value of 430 MPa was measured in a 4-point bending test, whereas the bars were build in an upright position and tested horizontally (In that case the cohesion of the layers can be tested). A 4-point-bending strength of 430 MPa is comapreable to conventional ceramic forming techniques.
rev. jim jones wrote at 12/12/2012 9:54:14 PM:
Can the printed ceramic material produce tensil strength of 430 Mpa?