Ceramic 3D printing is becoming more and more popular, as it provides customization options difficult to find in traditional manufacturing methods. Additionally, ceramic material boasts numerous properties:
- high strength and dimensional stability
- low density
- chemical stability
- high electrical insulating capacity
- high resistance to abrasion and corrosion
These important factors make ceramic additive manufacturing (AM) suitable for a wide number of industries and their applications.
The biomedical industry, for example, benefits from ceramic AM to create custom ceramic bone implants. Luxury brands may also design high-end watches or jewelry with ceramic parts. Other industries, like aerospace and automotive, can 3D print ceramic prototypes.
The entry barrier to access in-house ceramic manufacturing is, however, quite high. Most ceramic 3D printers are expensive, industrial additive manufacturing systems. Their prices generally range from $100K to over $250K, although a few are available for less.
Otherwise, it is possible to access their technology through professional ceramic 3D printing services, like Shapeways or iMaterialize. Users may send their 3D files to the paid service, which will 3D print the part and then send it back by mail.
There are different 3D printing methods capable of 3D printing ceramics:
- Paste extrusion (FFF/FDM)
- Powder sintering
- Binder jetting
- Photopolymerization (SLA/DLP)
It is important to keep in mind, though, that all of these methods require the object to go through heavy post-processing steps.
There are a handful of clay 3D printing solutions available for small businesses and hobbyists as well as artists.
Users may choose an all-in-one 3D printer with paste extrusion or a desktop clay 3D printer. Also, for those who already own a 3D printer (open-source), it is possible to get a clay extruder add-on.
For a comprehensive overview of the ceramic 3D printing market, discover the full article.