Advice for those working with ceramics
With so many promising new developments in the category of ceramic additive manufacturing, many professionals will be trying to push the envelope in their ways. Ortona acknowledges that two goals are “rowing in opposite directions” and may bring challenges to the race to create bigger and better objects: resolution and size.
“If you want a high resolution, your work area should be small. If you want to make a large piece or many, many pieces, you need a large work area, but you might lose resolution,” he explains. This major technical issue is one of the challenges to be resolved, possibly with advances in light engines and how they are placed and designed.
“People underestimate the importance of the slurry. The slurry itself is part of the system. It’s another lens.”
Hoping to work with ceramics that having a better-performing system isn’t enough. When you add powders to create the slurry, there should be added attention to detail. Indeed, printing a complex ceramic object bound by a photo-curable resin is relatively easy. Problems do arise during the thermal treatment stage to consolidate them into fully ceramic materials.
“On one side, you want your slurry loaded with the highest amount of ceramic powders. On the other, the ceramic powders will absorb or reflect the UV light hindering the curing of the resin and lately favoring cracking during thermal treatments.”
By using new materials and in parallel, by pushing the boundaries of light engines, it will be exciting to see where additive manufacturing of ceramic materials takes us in the next few years.