Breakthrough in 3D Printing: Unsupported Ceramic

In a significant advance in the field of 3D printing, a team of scientists from Jiangnan University in China has developed an innovative technique that allows ceramics to be printed in air without the need for support structures. This development could revolutionize the manufacture of ceramic parts, allowing the creation of shapes that were previously impossible with traditional 3D printing techniques.

Ceramics in Engineering

Ceramic is a commonly used material in the fields of electronics, mechanical engineering, and aerospace due to its structural integrity. They are wear resistant and have great resistance to high temperatures. However, due to their brittleness and hardness, the design and fabrication of certain ceramic parts can be challenging.

The Problem of Traditional 3D Printing

In traditional ceramic 3D printing, additional support structures are often needed to prevent unsupported parts from collapsing. This extra skeleton not only affects the efficiency of printing, but also raises issues related to the removal of these supports.

The Solution: 3D Printing without Support

To address these issues, Professor Liu Ren and his team at Jiangnan University, China, developed a new printing paste and better curing technique that ensures the material solidifies quickly. With this, 3D printing for ceramics becomes more efficient and eliminates the need for support structures.

Professor Liu Ren’s new paste is a photosensitive ceramic suspension that quickly strengthens and solidifies when exposed to near-infrared (NIR) light. “Printed curves can extend freely in space without support. The printing process is smooth and continuous, without the need for heating or cooling,” Liu said in the journal Nature Communications.

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They showed that NIR light is capable of achieving a better effect than the popular UV light. They were also able to print mixed ceramics using additives such as red iron, green chromium, or yttria-stabilized zirconia. These helped to standardize the sintering temperatures of ceramics that have different properties.

This breakthrough in supportless ceramic 3D printing is a major milestone in ceramic manufacturing. It not only improves printing efficiency, but also opens up new possibilities for ceramic part design and manufacturing. As technology advances, it’s exciting to imagine what other innovations might come in the future.

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