Acquisitions, Mergers & PartnershipsCeramics

Lithoz and ORNL advance 3D printed non-oxide ceramics

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement focuses on the development of non-oxide ceramics for extreme temperature applications

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Lithoz, a high-performance ceramic materials and 3D printer manufacturer, and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to use Lithoz’s 3D printing technology to further explore the processing and additive manufacturing of non-oxide ceramics.

Based on Laser-Induced Slipcasting (LIS) technology, the Lithoz 3D printer uses laser slurry drying, or net shaping, technology to guide computer-controlled light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation that desiccate liquid-suspended controlled layers of solids. The goal of the cooperative agreement is to develop the technology to shape non-oxide ceramics with high-refractive indexes, such as silicon carbide, for use in extreme temperature applications.

Lithoz and ORNL enter agreement to advance 3D printed non-oxide ceramics for extreme temperature applications.
Lithoz printed ceramic parts.

Lithoz recently launched its LIS technology to produce parts that are far more complex in geometry and larger in scale than can be achieved using conventional molding techniques. By incorporating intricate inner channels and 3D printable complex designs, the parts it can produce are lighter and more efficient when compared with current methods. This technology is also capable of increasing the range of materials that can be printed by processing dark ceramics, such as silicon carbide and silicon nitride, in a way that is unachievable with other processes.

The goal of this project is to scale up the production of ultra-high-temperature ceramic parts to an industrial level. The team will look to develop this technology by assessing its technical capabilities using a common oxide-ceramic material. This will involve printing and debinding the primary material – such as silicon nitride and silicon carbide, two highly in-demand substances for aerospace applications – from the molded component. Using heat, the substance will be sintered into a solid material. The performance and properties of the printed materials will then be tested.

“This project will build on ORNL’s years of research in developing and testing high-temperature materials and ceramics,” said Corson Cramer, Extreme Environment Materials Processing Group staff scientist at ORNL. “By combining our expertise with Lithoz 3D printing capabilities, we have the potential to change the concept of high-temperature ceramics processing for heat exchange, aerospace, and defense applications.”

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Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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