Formlabs has announced the release of its Ceramic Resin on the North American and European markets. Compatible with the Form 2 SLA desktop 3D printer, the so-called “experimental” material is aimed at taking the accessibility of printable ceramics beyond the industrial sector.
Offered through Form X, Formlabs’ experimental product platform, the new Ceramic Resin isn’t quite up to the same ease-of-use standard as the company’s other resins, and Formlabs discloses that additional measures are required to print with the ceramic material successfully. In following their usage guide carefully, however, users can leverage the benefits of ceramic 3D printing without an industrial-sized price tag.
As the 3D printing company says on its blog: “With Ceramic Resin, Formlabs is excited to introduce the first affordable ceramic 3D printing material for the world’s industry-leading desktop 3D printer, enabling more engineers and designers to bring rapid iteration with ceramic in-house.”
The new 3D printing material is made from a silica-filled photopolymer which—while not a technical ceramic in itself—does display certain properties associated with the high quality materials when fired. These properties include high temperature resistance, high thermal and electrical insulation, high resistance to corrosion and wear, good chemical inertness, and more.
Because of the firing process—which entails placing the printed part in a kiln to burn away the photopolymer particles, resulting in a solid ceramic part—Formlabs says its Ceramic Resin can be a bit finicky and warns that users might need to account for some additional trial and error in designing, printing, and finishing their ceramic parts. Still, for those looking to experiment with 3D printed ceramics without investing in an industrial-grade machine, the new resin seems like a good option.
Nervous System, a cutting-edge design studio specializing in 3D printed wearables and generative design, has already tested out the new Ceramic Resin with some success. Coinciding with Formlabs’ Ceramic Resin release, Nervous System has launched “Porifera,” a new jewelry line fabricated using the new ceramic material.
“One of the things we’re most excited about is the ability to make objects you couldn’t make using any other ceramic technique,” said Jessica Rosenkrantz, Nervous System co-founder. “You can’t make super thin interconnected three-dimensional structures. They can’t be cast. The green state of most ceramic processing is very fragile. But the green state of the 3D printing material is strong because it has resin in it. So we can make these super weird geometries that are super strong when they’re fired.”
Nervous System, which contributed to the development of Formlabs’ Ceramic Resin by beta testing the material, already has experience working with ceramic materials as it experimented with Tethon3D’s Porcelite resin using the Form 2 3D printer. With the new Ceramic Resin, the designers are eager to expand their in-house ceramic 3D printing capabilities.
From Formlabs’ perspective, the ceramic material has been a long time in the making—two years to be exact. At CES and Formnext 2017, the company even offered a preview of its ceramic SLA resin with the promise of an imminent commercial release. With its recent announcement, the company has delivered on its promise.