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Additive manufacturing of polymer-derived ceramics

Science  01 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6268, pp. 58-62
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2688

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Printing ceramics into complex shapes

Some materials, such as thermoplastics and metals, are naturally suited to being 3D printed because the individual particles can be fused together by applying heat. In contrast, ceramics do not fuse together the same way. Eckel et al. developed a way to pattern specific preceramic monomers using either 3D printing or stereolithography into complex, curved, and porous shapes. Upon heating, they observed almost no shrinkage, and the formed parts showed exceptional thermal stability.

Science, this issue p. 58

Abstract

The extremely high melting point of many ceramics adds challenges to additive manufacturing as compared with metals and polymers. Because ceramics cannot be cast or machined easily, three-dimensional (3D) printing enables a big leap in geometrical flexibility. We report preceramic monomers that are cured with ultraviolet light in a stereolithography 3D printer or through a patterned mask, forming 3D polymer structures that can have complex shape and cellular architecture. These polymer structures can be pyrolyzed to a ceramic with uniform shrinkage and virtually no porosity. Silicon oxycarbide microlattice and honeycomb cellular materials fabricated with this approach exhibit higher strength than ceramic foams of similar density. Additive manufacturing of such materials is of interest for propulsion components, thermal protection systems, porous burners, microelectromechanical systems, and electronic device packaging.

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