Ceramic Additive Manufacturing

Few materials in the world of manufacturing offer as wide a range of applications as traditional and technical ceramics. When it comes to ceramic additive manufacturing, the wide range of different additive manufacturing processes further expands the range of applications and materials. Although ceramics remains a niche market for additive manufacturing, the interest surrounding it is enormous and continues to grow.

3dpbm’s latest report on Ceramic Additive Manufacturing Opportunities and Trends 2020-2030, looked with unprecedented depth at the ceramic AM market finding that the opportunities are there and must be pursued.

The overall ceramic manufacturing market, including both technical ceramics such as alumina and zirconia, and sand materials, is currently worth as much as $400 billion yearly. According to the study, all of ceramic additive manufacturing today (including hardware, materials and services) generates $154 million. Although this figure does not include parts 3D printed by companies for internal use (which however has a relatively small impact on the total), that’s a lower penetration than metal AM and polymer AM in their respective addressable markets. Although only a handful of ceramic AM technologies can be used for industrial production today, they do exist and their still limited adoption is due to a number of factors.

Ceramic additive manufacturing has been around for two decades but only recently technical ceramics AM and sand binder jetting have begun to emerge
This map of ceramic AM technologies was published by 3dpbm in 2017. We have been studying the ceramic AM market very closely, leading to the recently published report on Ceramic AM, which provides the most accurate description this AM market segment

Factors limiting technical ceramic AM

These elements include still limited technology readiness, where only a few companies have developed processes that are able to produce dense technical ceramic parts. Even so, applications are limited by some processes’ complexity, high CapEx costs, relatively slow speeds and part size limitations. Another major limiting factor is the well as the known reluctance by large ceramic parts manufacturers to invest significantly in new processing capabilities, which would modify processes that have been consolidated over decades.. The biggest challenge today may be lack of awareness, where the relatively small number of ceramic AM companies around the world is not yet able to collectively generate the same level of awareness that metal AM and polymer AM have now achieved.

To help address some of these challenges, in 3dpbm’s Ceramic AM Opportunities and Trends report, we identified 96 companies (about 50% split between traditional and technical ceramic companies), including AM hardware manufacturers, AM materials suppliers and AM service providers. In total, the dataset for this market study comprises over 6,000 data points, providing the most accurate snapshot of the current ceramic AM global market [Click here for the most up-to-date Map of Ceramic AM Technologies and Companies].

3dpbm’s report on Ceramic Additive Manufacturing Opportunities and Trends 2020-2030 was release last month and provides by far the most accurate description of this interesting market segment available today.

We identified the current market leaders in technical ceramics as hardware companies Lithoz, ExOne, 3DCeram and XJet. Ceramic stereolithography is the most industrialized process for technical ceramics, with SLA technology better suited for internal industrial production and DLP technology ideally suited for AM services and outsourced production. The primary revenue opportunity in technical ceramic today is in hardware because the ceramic industry still needs to develop enough application cases to enable more production initiatives.

Some of the most advanced ceramic companies are now starting to increase their ceramic AM prototyping and production capabilities. More companies will follow because AM enables the production of ceramic part geometries and subassemblies that cannot be made in any other way, including digital subtractive methods. Complex ceramic 3D printed parts are needed in the aerospace, energy, dental/medical and consumer products/jewelry segments. In addition, silicate ceramics are used to produce complex foundry cores, for the production of metal parts in the energy and aerospace segment. Other opportunities are now emerging in the production of silicon carbide parts.

Traditional ceramic AM on the rise

In traditional ceramic additive manufacturing, the scenario is radically different. Here the primary benefits are found in the foundry industry, for rapid production of complex casts and cores. In such a traditional industry, the initial CapEx investment required for implementing AM is a major hurdle.

ExOne and Voxeljet, the current market leaders in this segment, produce very large and expensive machines. Althoug the value proposition of implementing additive for foundry cast and core production has been clearly established, based on several real application cases (presented in our report), adequately conveying these possibilities to the wider current addressable market remains challenging. Foundries and sand binder jetting services providers—·especially in the US and in Germany—are now starting to adopt and offer these capabilities. Recently, GE formed a collaboration with voxeljet to build the largest sand binder jetting machine in the world to make casts for giant single parts of the Halyade-X wind turbines, an initiative that could truly open a new era for sand binder jetting.

Ceramic AM Today

Researchers have been studying additive manufacturing of ceramic materials for close to two decades (almost as long as AM exists). While they have shown great promise from the very beginning,  the first real, practical and commercial applications of ceramics AM began to emerge only recently. Over the past two years the number of production applications has been steadily increasing and will continue to do so.

More companies will transition to 3D printing of sand casts and cores, without having to depart from their current use of casting processes, while benefiting from AM to produce more complex metal parts. In the long run, technical ceramics are key materials for the aerospace, medical and advanced industrial/engineering parts industries, including electronics and energy. Engineers will need to increasingly turn to ceramics when they have exhausted the possibilities of metals and advanced polymers, using AM to push part geometry.

  • Lithoz partners with Wendt India to grow in the Indian market

    Lithoz GmbH, a global market and technology leader in ceramic 3D printers and materials, signed a sales partnership agreement with Wendt (India) Ltd., strategically extending operations to the subcontinent’s fast-growing 3D printing market. The cooperation with WIL, an internationally reputed operator in the field of super abrasive grinding wheels and…

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  • FGK extends partnership with AIM3D on ceramic AM research

    The 3D printing process is becoming increasingly important for glass and ceramics and now complements conventional, mold-based casting processes or even milling. Since 2021, FGK (Forschungsinstitut für Glas/Keramik) in Hoehr-Grenzhausen has been using an ExAM 255 CEM 3D printing system from extrusion specialist AIM3D for research purposes. The AM process…

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  • The Promised Land of 3D printing

    The Promised Land is generally intended as the land of Israel, which, according to the Bible’s Old Testament, God promised and subsequently gave to Abraham and several more times to his descendants. Metaphorically speaking, the idea of a Promised Land is also well suited for describing 3D printing’s potential, as…

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  • SU-PAD and Tritone Technologies sign exclusive distribution agreement. Completing SU-PAD's range of metal 3D printers and services.

    Tritone Technologies opens new US-based subsidiary

    Tritone Technologies, a global provider of metal and ceramic additive manufacturing technology for industrial production, has continued its global expansion with the opening of a new US-based subsidiary, Tritone Technologies North America Inc. – catering to the increasing demands of the North American region. The launch of Tritone Technologies North…

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  • At Formnext 2022, Lithoz will present the company's answer to the profitable mass production of 3D printed ceramics.

    Lithoz to demonstrate mass production via ceramic 3D printing

    At Formnext 2022, Lithoz will present the answer to the profitable mass production of 3D printed ceramics. Visitors will be able to see, touch, and feel the smooth and crack-free industrial parts, on display at the Lithoz stand, which have been created thanks to the plug-and-play scalability of the CeraFab…

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  • XJet KU Leuven

    CeramTec acquires XJet Carmel 1400C solution for future growth

    Technical ceramics experts CeramTec GmbH has invested in a Carmel 1400C Additive Manufacturing from XJet Ltd., a ceramic and metal additive manufacturing specialist, to be installed at its headquarters in Plochingen (Germany) before the end of the year. CeramTec, with over a century of development and production expertise, is a…

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  • Lithoz acquires CerAMing - the patent holder of the Layer-wise Slurry Disposition (LSD)-Print ceramic 3D printing process.

    Lithoz acquires CerAMing

    Lithoz GmbH, a global market and technology leader in ceramic 3D printing, has acquired Germany-based CerAMing, the patent holder of the Layer-wise Slurry Disposition (LSD)-Print ceramic 3D printing process. CerAMing is a successful spin-off of BAM (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung/German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing), having emerged…

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  • The Royal Netherlands Navy and Nanoe explore the potential of using a Zetamix system to produce metal and ceramic parts on site.

    The Royal Netherlands Navy and Nanoe enter partnership

    Nanoe is partnering with the Royal Netherlands Navy to explore the possibilities of equipping LPD Ships with Zetamix systems – to enable the production of metal and ceramic parts on site. Founded by three engineers in 2008, Nanoe is a French company that specializes in the elaboration and production of…

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  • Lithoz reports most successful first-half in the company's history - already receiving more than two-thirds of planned order intake for 2022.

    Lithoz reports most successful first-half in the company’s history

    Lithoz GmbH, a world market and innovation leader in ceramic 3D printing, has had its strongest first-half ever, in terms of order intake. By the end of the second quarter, the company had already reached two-thirds of its full-year order intake target. In view of these strong first two quarters,…

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    MIT researchers 3D print sensors for satellites

    MIT researchers have created the first completely digitally manufactured plasma sensors for orbiting spacecraft. These plasma sensors, also known as retarding potential analyzers (RPAs), are used by satellites to determine the chemical composition and ion energy distribution of the atmosphere. The 3D printed, and laser-cut hardware performed as well as…

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