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Additive process for non-oxide ceramics

Additive ManufacturingCeramicsESTECHIn situ densificationIn situ shapingIn-situ synthesis

Introduction

This invention represents a competitive alternative to the complex and expensive technologies presently used to densify non-oxide ceramics. Exploiting vacuum additive manufacturing technologies through a single-step process this technology enable the synthesis, the controlled densification and the shaping of non-oxide materials, in porous as well as fully dense ceramic components, with a tailored nano-micro-macrostructure.

Technical features

The application of solid-state sintering for non-oxide ceramics has always been complicated because their strong and predominantly covalent atomic bonds inhibit solid-state diffusion below their decomposition temperature, thus requiring extremely high process temperature. A second aspect, that makes solid-state sintering a difficult process, is related to the necessity for non-oxides to conduce the process in reducing or inert atmosphere to prevent their oxidation. Moreover, with actual technologies is not possible to produce complex geometries, requiring further machining work to obtain the final object. This invention allows to perform in situ synthesis, densification at a controlled rate, and shaping of non-oxide ceramic parts by using a vacuum additive manufacturing technology, in which thermal energy is supplied by a laser or electron beam and focused on a powder bed, progressively deposited following 3D model data to shape the desired component.

Possible Applications

  • Super hard abrasives;
  • Cutting tools;
  • Rocket nozzels;
  • Electrodes for metal melts;
  • Heating elements.

Advantages

  • Additive Manufacturing technologies enable direct shaping of the object;
  • Single step process to obtain a final object;
  • Density of the object could be managed;
  • Increasing material performances;
  • No need of extreme high temperatures for the process.