Additive for Ceramics

A Practical Understanding of the Technology

As an OEM ceramic parts service bureau, we provide you access to the additive manufacturing forming process. We utilize additive manufacturing, and our other ceramic production resources, based upon material, your part’s requirements, and order quantity – guided by our knowledge from over 40 years OEM ceramic parts production experience. Additive manufacturing may be the solution for prototype or for production with materials having the same chemistries and specific gravities as traditional industrial OEM ceramics manufacturing processes.

Additive manufactured alumina contact puck chip carrier for _wire contact plugThe Additive Manufacturing Process

Unlike injection molding OEM ceramic components, additive manufacturing utilizes a layering process. Each layer is made with very high precision at extremely high resolution (think 10–100 μm layer thickness depending on material and machine). The ceramic powder and binder compound are deposited onto a platform one layer at a time. Each layer is then immediately exposed to rapid on/off cycling of a high-intensity energy source, solidifying the compound.

It is the rapid on/off cycling of the energy source that defines the component's shape in the X-Y (length-width) axis. Each subsequent layer on the build platform defines the Z (height) axis of the component. The X-Y axis shape is like a 2D slice of the part, and Z axis movement adds the third dimension. All are controlled primarily by data from the customer's CAD file. Once all the layers are deposited and cured, the binder is removed, and the part is sintered to full density.

Comparing Ceramco's Additive Manufacturing to its Injection Molding Processes

Additive's Similarities

  1. Green parts for both are fired after forming
  2. Achievable as-fired tolerances are virtually identical
  3. Fired densities are the same
  4. Design considerations for a good production yield are similar
  5. Both have process limitations, such as wall thickness

Additive's Weaknesses

  1. Need for support structures to prop-up overhangs and transition layers
  2. Labor to prep green parts for firing
  3. Support structures cannot be recycled
  4. Longer thermal cycle
  5. Currently less scalable for higher volumes, slow printing times
  6. In process quality monitoring for printing defects
  7. Higher material cost

Additive's Strengths

  1. Producing designs otherwise impossible to achieve
  2. Overcoming die lock and demolding issues
  3. No tooling cost, saving $300 - $30,000
  4. Many small parts can be made simultaneously
  5. Automated (unattended) operation
  6. Practical cycle times for volume production are possible with modern equipment and technology enhancements

Learn More About Our Injection Molding Processes

Injection molding your OEM ceramic component may be a more viable manufacturing method to plan for in the future. Many factors determine which process method is best. Ceramco can help you determine the logical choice. Learn more about our ceramics injection molding technologies, or ask us a question (below).