Shatter-Resistant 3D-Printed Ceramic

A thin shell of soft polymer can help keep knotty ceramic structures from shattering, according to materials scientists at Rice University . Ceramics made with 3D printers crack under stress like any plate or bowl. But covered in a soft polymer cured under ultraviolet light, the same materials stand a far better chance of keeping their structural integrity, much like a car windshield’s treated glass is less likely to shatter. The researchers proved through experiments and simulations that a coating of polymer no more than 100 microns thick will make fragile schwarzites up to 4.5 times more resistant to catastrophic fractures. The team says several structural applications could benefit from polymer-enhanced ceramics.