Why are manufacturers betting on ceramic FFF 3D printing?


Since its arrival on the additive manufacturing market in 2018, Nanoe has been working to democratize the use of ceramic and metal FFF 3D printing with an accessible and easy to implement process. If its filaments have made their way into laboratories and research centers in France and internationally, they are gaining more and more ground among manufacturers who rely on the internal integration of additive manufacturing. The ceramic materials of the French manufacturer offer several interesting thermal, chemical and mechanical properties for demanding activities such as orbital welding, the production of parts for boilers or the manufacture of turned parts. Thanks to Zetamix filaments, several international manufacturers have been able to increase their agility by reducing production times and machine downtime, as well as reducing costs.

Among the users of Zetamix ceramic additive manufacturing solutions are three manufacturers: MGB, SAPCO and Orbital Service. 3D technologies have offered them many advantages and in particular all three have been won over by the thermal capacities of ceramic filaments, including zirconia and alumina. All three of these manufacturers had very specific issues that were difficult to resolve through subtractive manufacturing, or at least at much higher cost and time.

More and more manufacturers are integrating additive manufacturing (photo credits: SAPCO)

Alumina, a 3D printing material resistant to high temperatures

MGB is a French company created in 1956, specializing in the manufacture of turned parts for connectors. She works mainly with players in the medical, aerospace and electronics industries, players who need custom screws. These screws have different hardnesses, with the bottom of the screw generally being less resistant than the top. To produce this type of screw to measure, MGB has developed a specific machine which anneals the upper part by induction to provide the necessary hardness.

It is in this machine that MGB has integrated a 3D printed part based on alumina. This is a custom-made support punched at the end in which the French manufacturer places the screw in question. It is then heated while a heat sensor monitors the temperature. It was therefore necessary to imagine a guide capable of withstanding such a temperature, perfectly suited to the shape of the screw in question and which would withstand the presence of the electric detector. It was a challenge that could not have been met so quickly without the integration of additive manufacturing. MGB says the process of designing and manufacturing a new screw holder takes less than a week. This is a delay that would have been unimaginable if the company had resorted to subtractive manufacturing or a service provider.

Ceramic FFF printing

3D printed screw holders (photo credits: Nanoe)

Improving orbital welding processes with Zetamix filaments

Orbital Service is a German company specializing in orbital welding which also relied on Zetamix to produce custom parts. In its activity, TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding operations pose many challenges, in particular to avoid oxidation and contamination of the air. To remedy this, the company must create an electric arc and project an inert shielding gas around the area to be welded. However, in orbital welding the tubes to be welded are very big and the TIG welding nozzles are not suitable. This promotes oxidation and post-treatment of the parts. The output is considerably slowed down and the process is unreliable.

This is where additive manufacturing comes in handy. Orbital Service used FFF technology and Zetamix ceramic filaments – especially alumina – to design custom TIG nozzles. These nozzles now have a concave shape, more suited to the volume of the tubes to be welded. This reduces welding faults and the consumption of inert gas. The German company chose alumina for its temperature resistance and claims that the entire design and manufacturing process only takes a week.

Thanks to additive manufacturing, Orbital Service can design more suitable concave nozzles (photo credits: Nanoe)

Choose Zetamix to reduce maintenance time

SAPCO manufactures ceramic ignition and ionization electrodes, which are integrated into industrial boilers and burners. To do this, the company has developed automated production processes using made-to-measure machines, particularly for the assembly phase. However, it remains complex: when welding the electrode, 2 metal edges are placed around the workpiece, which edges are installed via plastic welding pins. These are damaged very quickly due to the high temperature, causing the machine to stop at least once a day. This downtime affects the entire production process at SAPCO, forcing them to find another way to produce these spindles.

The use of ceramic injection was first considered by the company, but quickly proved impractical, expensive and difficult to implement. SAPCO therefore turned to additive manufacturing and opted for ceramics rather than polymers. They opted for zirconia, which can withstand temperatures of up to 800 ° C. The Zetamix solution was ideal because it was easy to deploy and use. In 5 days, the teams were able to design and produce optimized welding pins. They need to be changed once a month, which greatly reduces maintenance and machine downtime.

3D printing industry

Welding pins are 3D printed with zirconia (photo credits: Nanoe)

An answer to internal tooling problems

When it comes to producing internal tooling, manufacturers can therefore rely on ceramic FFF 3D printing to gain agility and increase their productivity. The choice of ceramics allows sectors such as aeronautics, automotive, foundry and jewelry to withstand extremely high temperatures and other chemical and mechanical stresses.

Finally, opting for Nanoe’s solutions will allow the user to deploy a low-cost offer compared to other ceramic printing processes. Beyond the price, it’s also a question of ease of use. The FFF process is easy to use and easy to integrate into production lines. This is particularly true when it comes to internal tools: the choice of the Zetamix solution will be more appropriate than other processes such as photopolymerization, which will be favored for the manufacture of very precise parts in the biomedical sector for example. . You can visit the manufacturer’s website to learn more about their line of filaments.

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