Aug 14, 2017 | By Benedict

Johnson Matthey, a British sustainable technology and chemicals company, has opened a new state-of-the-art ceramic 3D printing facility in Royston, UK. The lab contains a QiCPic image analysis sensor, a Freeman FT4 powder tester, and a PixDro inkjet printer.

Ceramic 3D printing is one of the fastest-growing areas of additive manufacturing, and it’s easy to see why. Although the process has been used extensively for 3D printed sculptures and artworks, printed ceramics also have the potential to be used as functional objects, such as kitchen equipment and even medical and dental tools.

The latest company to jump on the ceramic 3D printing bandwagon is Johnson Matthey, a British multinational sustainable tech and chemicals company headquartered in London. According to a recent press release from the UK company, a new ceramic 3D printing facility is being opened in the Hertfordshire town of Royston to allow the company to explore new applications for binder jetting and other additive processes.

But this isn’t exactly a new direction for Jonhson Matthey. The company started looking at 3D printing around eight years ago, and already produces bespoke ceramic products with flexible geometries and feature sizes as small 400 µm. The new facility is therefore more of an evolution than a revolution, with the company saying that the new R&D lab will enable it to “develop a greater understanding of 3D printing, characterising powders and inks to allow faster development and more effective solutions for customers.”

“This new laboratory is a great step forward for Johnson Matthey,” commented Sam O'Callaghan, research group leader at Johnson Matthey. “The cutting-edge technology will help us develop our 3D printing capabilities and offer customers truly bespoke solutions.”

Amongst the high-end equipment that has been set up at the new Royston 3D printing facility is a QiCPic image analysis sensor, which Johnson Matthey says can be used to measure both particle size distribution and shape in a dry atmosphere. This machine is complemented by a Freeman FT4 powder tester, which offers seven different testing procedures.

Top-bottom: Johnson Matthey's new QiCPic image analysis sensor, Freeman FT4 Powder Rheometer, and PixDro inkjet printer

John Matthey says it is using its expertise to build a “powder operating window” with this new equipment.

Another important addition to the 3D printing facility is a PixDro inkjet printer, “fitted with the same printhead system installed across all of the R&D prototype and pilot plant printers.” The company says the PixDro will be used to devise cost-saving experiments and to assess alternative suppliers and reagents.

Finally, the new Hertfordshire-based 3D printing laboratory has also been equipped with a mixer torque rheometer, which allows for the measurement of powder-ink interactions. This will enable the company to settle on appropriate printing settings, and will also help the team understand why certain powders perform differently to others.

“The overall aim of this new facility is to build upon our understanding of 3D printing, improve our processes, and help create effective applications for our products,” Johnson Matthey says.

Founded in London in 1817, Johnson Matthey recently celebrated its 200th anniversary.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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