3D printing ceramics is one of the latest trends in 2019, it was first spotted in 2012 by a research group from the University of the West of England (UWE). The process is back with some innovating new techniques and materials. Before, 3D printing making complex objects was not an easy task and even less in the ceramics field.
Just like with plastic 3D printing, the two main used technologies to 3D print ceramics are similar to FDM (Fused deposition modeling) and STL (Stereolithography Apparatus).
Some ceramic 3D printers use air in order to push the liquid ceramic material, others use a worm gear to push the liquid material as a syringe would. Both methods have their own complexities tied to them, but the most user friendly method is the use of a worm gear.
HRL labs, invented “pre-ceramic polymer” back in 2015, a resin formula that can be used to produce 3D printed ceramics parts with extremely strong and high temperature resilient properties; this allows to print complex shaped sturdy parts without the need of a mold.
Their 3D resin formula requires a 3D printing method similar to SLA printing, using a liquid resin that is hardened by applying light emitted from a laser, this process is called curing. This process can take several hours to produce a single piece.
HRL Labs formed silicon carbide ceramics, a true innovation in the 3D printing industry. This process forms a new ceramic rather than merging together individual grains of material; which helps reduce pores across the entire printed part, thus losing brittleness across the whole material.