US laboratory printing high-temperature, high-strength 3D ceramic parts

A latest development could have huge benefits for aviation. A US laboratory has started printing high-temperature, high-strength 3D ceramic parts. A company in California, HRL Laboratories has utilized a resin that is 3D printed in the required size and shape. They fired it with a motive to convert it into a ceramic, capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1,700 degrees Celsius while maintaining crucial strength.

HRL Sensors and Materials Laboratory senior scientist Dr. Tobias Schaedler explained, “Our team surmounted the challenges inherent in ceramics to develop an innovative material that has myriad applications in variety of industries. The resulting material can withstand ultrahigh temperatures in excess of 1700°C and exhibits strength 10 times higher than similar materials”.

While explaining that earlier ceramics were created by sintering, which is compacting and changing a substance into a solid without reaching its melting point, Schaedler said ceramics are very difficult to process as compared to polymers or metals as they can’t be cast or machined easily. Thus, it restricts the shapes that can be achieved, give way to pores in the final product and has an impact on the strength. The sintering process results into brittle final products that can’t hold up well to machining.

Meanwhile, the process of 3D printing deposits layers of the printing material, which was earlier not sufficiently resistant for high-temperature and high-strength applications.

According to a report from the LiveScience, strong, flawless ceramics in various shapes, including spirals and honeycombs, can now can be created using 3D printing, researchers say. These new materials could find use in hypersonic aircraft and microscopic devices, scientists added.

Ceramics possess many useful qualities, such as high strength, high hardness and resistance to corrosion, abrasion and extreme heat. However, one shortcoming limits certain uses of ceramics — they aren't easily morphed into complex shapes. Unlike metals and plastics, ceramics cannot easily be poured into molds or pared down to a desired form.

Engineers have always liked ceramic parts -- they are strong, lightweight and handle heat better than many metals, ideal for crafting parts for airplanes or rockets. Heat-shielding tiles on the space shuttle were made from ceramics, for example.

It's not entirely a secret space shuttle, but there's still much we don't know about the Air Force craft that recently landed after a journey to space to do ... no one knows what! Trace examines what the mystery ship might have been up to. Now researchers have used a 3-D printer to make customized ceramic parts that have also overcome the Achilles’ heel of ceramic objects: their tendency to crack, told the Discovery.

The TechnologyReview notes that, the promise of additive manufacturing or 3-D printing—faster and cheaper manufacturing of more customizable parts—is limited by the palette of printable materials, which until now has included mainly polymers and some metals. Now we can add ceramics, an important class of materials whose high strength and resistance to heat, chemical degradation, and friction make them attractive for use in the military and the aerospace industries for everything from exterior airplane parts to small components for rockets.

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