Canon Inc. announced that the company has developed a manufacturing technology for the highly accurate 3D printing of ceramic parts with complex geometries using a proprietary ceramic material for 3D printers. The 3D printed ceramic parts feature such properties of conventional ceramics as heat and corrosion resistance as well as insulating properties, and are expected to be utilized in a variety of different fields, including industrial equipment.
3D printers that utilize such materials as metal and resin, which enable easy prototyping and the production of a variety of parts in small lots, have started to become more common. However, many existing ceramic materials for 3D printers contain resin and the parts produced using these materials can shrink approximately 20 percent1 during the post-annealing process, making it difficult to produce ceramic parts with high accuracy.
Canon has developed a new alumina-based ceramic material suited to selective laser melting2 as well as a new parts production technology. Through this technology, a 3D printer can be used to stably produce ceramic parts with such complex geometries as hollow and porous structures, which are difficult to achieve through ordinary metal molding or cutting processes. For example, when creating honeycomb shapes3 with hexagonal hollows and a diameter of approximately 19 mm, parts can be produced with high accuracy with differences in external dimensions before and after the annealing stage of less than 0.8 percent.