Fields such as medicine, electronics and aerospace are using 3D printing to overcome problems that require innovative new technology to make further progress past their already established applications. Multimaterial in 3D printing is one area that is garnering widespread attention due to the wide range of possibilities that it provides to make parts that are more functional and have improved properties.
The rapid development of additive manufacturing technologies is no longer restricted to single-phase materials. Multiple materials can already be used simultaneously to manufacture parts. By expanding the design space to different materials, multimaterial 3D printing establishes the possibilities of manufacturing 3D parts with enhanced properties and altered material compositions and structures from one section of the component to another.
Structures combining highly complex shapes with different materials without the need for joining or assembly can be directly manufactured, allowing for the replacement of assemblies with printed parts. This opens the door to numerous applications, in fields ranging from electronics and embedded sensors to biomedical implants and devices, as well as aerospace, automotive and energy storage systems.
The CeraFab Multi 2M30
Powered by Lithoz’ industry-leading LCM technology, the CeraFab Multi 2M30 allows for the manufacturing of multi-functional components. The assembly of the CeraFab Multi 2M30 consists of two rotating vats filled with a photocurable resin/suspension. Two separate vats mean ceramics can be combined with other ceramics, polymers or metals. These vats move over the projecting system as needed, curing the respective layer. The vat’s bottom is transparent, allowing the light source to expose suspensions from below. The building platform is mounted on an axis and moves up and down during the 3D printing process. The innovative two-vat system enhances the speed, accuracy and effectiveness of a clean material switch between and within layers while the fully automated cleaning step avoids cross-contamination during material changes.
Very little slurry is used and no material recovery operations or pumping systems are required to keep the slurry circulating, making it attractive in terms of cost and resource efficiency. The swivel platform assembly allows for huge innovation potential. Vats can be switched out for other systems with customized software written independently, allowing for greater customer development and opportunities for research. An essential step in the production of composite materials is successful co-processing and co-sintering of the selected powders. Developments in the sintering of different classes of materials into one component aim to match shrinkage behaviours of different materials to make functional components.
Lithoz is investigating ways to guarantee the successful co-sintering of multi-material components. The shrinkage behaviour of various components is determined by tuning powder fractions in the slurry and by adapting the particle size distribution or shape.