This study aims to fabricate complex ceramic tetrahedron structures, which are challenging to produce by more conventional methods such as injection molding. To achieve this aim, thermoplastic-ceramic composite filaments were developed and printed with unmodified, consumer-grade, fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers instead.
Al2O3 ceramic powder was mixed with ethylene vinyl acetate polymer as a binder (50 Vol.- per cent) to form a filament with a constant diameter of 1.75 mm. After the printing and thermal treatment stages, the shrinkage and mechanical properties of cuboid and tetrahedron structures were investigated.
The shrinkage of the parts was found to be anisotropic, depending on the orientation of the printing pattern, with an increase of 2.4 per cent in the (vertical) printing direction compared to the (horizontal) printing layer direction. The alignment of the ceramic particle orientations introduced by FDM printing was identified as a potential cause of the anisotropy. This study further demonstrates that using a powder bed during the thermal debinding process yields sintered structures that can withstand twice the compressive force.
Ceramic FDM had previously been used primarily for simple scaffold structures. In this study, the applicability of ceramic FDM was extended from simple scaffolds to more complex geometries such as hollow tetrahedra. The structures produced in this study contain dense parts printed from multiple contiguous layers, as compared to the open structures usually found in scaffolds. The mechanical properties of the complex ceramic parts made by using this FDM technique were also subjected to investigation.
The authors would like to thank the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) for the financial support with the project number SNF 200021_157122/11 and funding for the analytic instrument SNF 206021_64024. The authors would also like to thank Tobias Rantze for his continuing support with the 3D printer and fruitful discussions and Roland Bächtold for his help with the setup for the compression tests. The support of Markus Zwick who provided the SEM image of the CT 3000 LS SG powder is greatly appreciated.
Conzelmann, N., Gorjan, L., Sarraf, F., Poulikakos, L., Partl, M., Müller, C. and Clemens, F. (2020), "Manufacturing complex Al2O3 ceramic structures using consumer-grade fused deposition modelling printers", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-05-2019-0133Download as .RIS
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