Tethon 3D has received a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to develop a new ceramic and metal 3D printing system. The newly funded project, entitled “A novel DLP 3D printer optimized for ceramics and metals,” is to begin development immediately and is set to become the first commercially available desktop DLP printer for ceramic and metal AM.
In developing the novel DLP 3D printing technology, Tethon 3D—known for manufacturing technical ceramics for AM—will work with the University of Nebraska engineers Bai Cui, PhD, an expert in ceramic AM materials and Prahalada Rao, PhD, a specialist in 3D printing hardware. The overall aim of the collaboration is to develop a DLP 3D printer specifically for ceramic and metal applications. Austrian company Lithoz was the first to commercialize DLP technology for technical ceramics, with systems costing around $300,000. Dutch company Admatec followed by lowering system cost and introducing metal AM processing along with ceramics.
“While there are more than a dozen SLA and DLP 3D printers that work well and are compatible with our UV curable ceramic and metal materials, they are all designed for plastic polymers,” explained Tethon 3D CEO Karen Linder. “By optimizing a DLP printer for ceramics and metals and formulating our materials specifically for this enhanced printer, the industry can produce stronger and higher resolution ceramic and metal 3D printed parts with the convenience and lower expenses of desktop DLP technology.”
Though the grant sum has not been disclosed, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s director Dave Rippe expressed his enthusiasm at the project. “The Academic Research and Development Program supports partnerships between Nebraska entrepreneurs and academic institutions, and continues to produce incredible results in terms of putting our companies on the leading-edge of innovation and enhancing their industry competitiveness,” Rippe said. “We congratulate Tethon 3D and the University of Nebraska on their new venture, and look forward to their success.”
Though Tethon 3D will continue to provide its materials and solutions for a range of ceramic-friendly DLP, SLA and binder jetting technologies, the new project with the University of Nebraska represents the company’s first hardware division. The goal of developing a specialized DLP printer for ceramics and metals is to offer designers and manufacturers a more efficient way to produce complex ceramic and metal parts and enable higher volume manufacturing.
“We are passionate about creating new markets, fabricating designs that were previous impossible and disrupting existing manufacturing approaches,” concluded Linder.
Overall, it is exciting to see that ceramic AM specialist Tethon 3D is moving beyond material development and into the realm of AM systems. We are eager to see what the Tethon 3D and the University of Nebraska will come up with for their ceramic/metal AM DLP technology.