Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, additive manufacturing has found itself in the spotlight with its ability to rapidly churn out essential medical equipment on-demand to meet the burgeoning demand.
But then there is that question. Is it ready for mass production? Perhaps the answer is that we should look at additive manufacturing as a complementary technology for mass customization instead of replacing mass production.
Ceramics might not be as mainstream as other materials, but France-based 3DCeram is ready and primed for that leap to mass customization with their stereolithography-based ceramic AM process and create new production approaches.
There are 2 key elements to 3DCeram’s goal in complementing existing processes to enable mass customization, as well as producing complex components that are impossible with conventional methods.
#1 – C100 EASY
Ideal for prototyping and material testing, the small 3D ceramic printer with a build volume of 100 x 100 x 150mm can be operated within 20 minutes. It also has a special feature where it can accept a small amount of ceramic material to produce parts for evaluation or testing.
#2 – C3600 ULTIMATE
If the produced part on C100 EASY turns out ok, manufacturers can move to the production stage with the C3600 ULTIMATE (build volume: 600 x 600 x 300mm) that can produce large-scale components or batches of smaller parts. Technically, parameters on the C100 are the same as C3600, making it a breeze in scaling up production.
A 3D printer is nothing without capable materials, and 3DCeram has extensively developed 15 materials in its technical ceramics portfolio such as Alumina, Zirconia, Silicon Nitride, Aluminum Nitride, and so on, to guarantee a level of quality preferred by the most demanding industries.
COOLER COMPONENT CASE STUDY
So what are the obvious benefits of using AM over conventional methods? With a typical cooler component application that was made using aluminum, it would cost around 386 SGD per piece.
But with 3DCeram’s technology, you can reduce the production cost to just 102 SGD. 3D printing also allows the part volume to be reduced by directly embedding the channels directly into its geometry.
169 ceramic cooler components were 3D printed in 57 hours, and the turnaround time was reduced to just a month, highlighting the advanced maturity of 3DCeram’s technology that had been developed over the years.
3DCeram has also developed a smart support system called FREE LINK, which supports parts as they are cleaned without being physically attached to them. There are 2 types of support: one can be used as a firing setter so that the part keeps its shape integrity or the one which goes at the cleaning stage.
As 3DCeram continues to develop technology for full automation, we must remember that 3D printing has come a long way and the future potential in terms of applications can only get better.