YCN Research in Spot: On-demand rapid processing of complex-shaped ceramics by Hugo Curto

The development of additive manufacturing (AM) since the last decades enthusiastically increase the potentiality of these technologies. AM of ceramics is now reaching industrialization thanks to its advantages such as high precision, the versatility of the processed pieces, quick processing time and so on. Moreover, AM technologies like stereolithography (SLA) are referred as indirect technologies because the produced parts must be thermally debinded and sintered.

These thermal steps are usually involving long processing time. To overcome this limitation and to make possible the quick processing of ceramics, we propose to microwave sinter the pieces. Microwave sintering (MWS) is one of the rapid sintering technologies available. Unlike Spark Plasma Sintering and Flash Sintering, the main advantage of MWS is the geometry-restriction free set-up, which is compatible with complex-shaped parts sintering. 

When I joined the LMCPA (Laboratoire des Matériaux Céramiques et Procédés Associés) to begin my Ph.D., preliminary experiments already highlighted that the MWS of hydroxyapatite shaped by SLA was feasible and exhibited similar mechanical properties than conventional sintering. We focused our researches on alumina, zirconia, and composites made of alumina-zirconia to increase the potential of this coupling on biomaterials. The results are impressive; we are now able to process on-demand complex-shaped ceramics in a few hours while maintaining the mechanical properties in comparison with conventional sintering. Nevertheless, debinding is still a tricky step of the process, especially during microwave heating, but improvement is expected by precise monitoring and control of the temperature.

Financial support: FEDER Interreg “Tech2Fab”

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