Japanese corporation Canon has announced the arrival of a new ceramic 3D printing technology and proprietary ceramic 3D printing material. Canon says the “highly accurate” technology is capable of 3D printing ceramics with “complex geometries” such as honeycomb structures.
Within the scope of additive manufacturing as a whole, ceramic 3D printing remains some way behind its metal and plastic equivalents. As well as being relatively niche, ceramic-based materials can be difficult to print accurately, since the post-annealing process can cause shrinkage of the part. Because the extent of this shrinkage can be hard to predict, ceramic printing often lacks accuracy.
Canon, best known for its cameras, printers, scanners and other imaging products, has today announced both a new ceramic 3D printing technology and ceramic 3D printing material that could have a big impact on the ceramic printing landscape.
The company’s new 3D printing technology purportedly allows a 3D printer to stably produce ceramic parts with complex geometries such as hollow and porous structures, while its new material, an alumina-based ceramic, is suited to both this new technology and existing selective laser melting (SLM) technology.
Canon has stressed the ability of its new technology to produce complex forms. “When creating honeycomb shapes with hexagonal hollows and a diameter of approximately 19 mm, parts can be produced with high accuracy with differences in external dimensions before and after the annealing stage of less than 0.8 percent,” the company says.
The imaging specialist believes its new 3D printing tech could be used in several industrial fields. According to Canon, electric furnaces (or other equipment that demands heat resistance and insulating properties) could be printed with the ceramic manufacturing process, as could parts that will be exposed to corrosive chemicals.
In future, when further materials have been developed, the technology could be used in medicine and other areas.