Milestone Reached in 3D-Printed Ceramics Technology
Ceramics are more difficult to process than polymers or metals because they can't be cast or machined easily. Traditionally ceramic parts are consolidated from powders by sintering, which introduces porosity and limits both achievable shapes and final strength. Researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC, have demonstrated an approach to additively manufacture ceramics that overcomes the limits of traditional ceramic processing and enables high-temperature, high-strength ceramic components. The researchers invented a resin formulation that can be 3D printed into parts of almost any shape and size. The printed resin can then be fired, converting it into a high-strength, fully dense ceramic. The resulting material can withstand ultrahigh temperatures in excess of 1700°C and exhibits strength ten times higher than similar materials. The novel process and material could be used in a wide range of applications from large components in jet engines and hypersonic vehicles to intricate parts in microelectromechanical systems and electronic device packaging.