3D Printing Ceramics The vessels shown in this photograph were all 3D printed, using a powder and binder made by a 3D printer, by artist Kate Blacklock (kateblacklock.com)

3D Printing Ceramics

Glass and ceramic 3D printers have always been complex machines, recently AIM3D has launched its newest generation of multimaterial printheads for its composite extrusion modeling (CEM), capable of printing Plastic, metal and ceramics. CEM combines the metal injection molding process (MIM), a well-known method, with the process technologies from additive manufacturing.

The result is a very simple process that is based on cost-effective and easily available injection molding pellets and offers the freedom of 3D printing. The CEM process not only reduces material costs significantly, but also machine costs. Already known problems in production, such as residual stresses, are significantly reduced in the CEM process.


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The ExAM 255 can print prototypes made of metals, such as steel, ceramics and also plastics – and all this without the need of expensive retrofitting. (aim3d.de)


CEM-E2 extruder. Capable of printing metal, plastic, and ceramics, the extruder’s print heads are optimized for different materials and are designed to achieve improved accuracy, higher surface quality, and better mechanical properties of parts. AIM3D has also developed its own ceramic Pellets, in combination with the CEM extruder this makes possible for the making of 3D printed ceramic parts.


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Ceramic pellets contain small particles of ceramic bounded by plastic, such plastic is later dissolved or removed. (aim3d.de)


The process of how this pellets become a final 3D printed part are described bellow:


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In the CEM process, only the plastic component of the Ceramic pellets is melted. The ceramic powder bound by the plastic is layed out to form the desired 3D print, which is still quite fragile. (aim3d.de)



3D-printing-ceramics

In the next stage of the process, the plastic is first debinded, that means the binder is chemically or thermally dissolved. Finally, the temperature is raised in a sintering furnace to just below the melting point of the ceramic. The particles bond on a molecular level and form a stable ceramic part. (aim3d.de)



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Due to the process, the sintered part shrinks. This shrinkage is mostly homogeneous in all three-dimensions and depends on the printing material. The sintering shrinkage can be taken into account by a simple scaling of the printing geometry depending on the material. (aim3d.de)


3D printing Ceramic is not an easy task. Most of the existing methods rely on high temperature to help reach the ceramics melting point to later mold it into the desired form, but laying particles of it in the desired form to later fuse them together is a much more efficient and controlled method.

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