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Our LCM TECHNOLOGY

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE CERAMICS

Lithoz offers an innovative process for the additive manufacturing of high-performance ceramics named Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) technology. This LCM technology allows for the production of high-performance ceramic parts which possess the same material properties as conventionally formed parts. The development of LCM technology began in 2006 at TU Vienna by the founders of Lithoz, with Lithoz being created as a spin-off of TU Wien in 2011.

 

The term 'additive manufacturing' describes processes with which three-dimensional objects are created by curing individual layers. In the last few years, additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D-printing, has emerged as an effective and tool-free method for producing objects of diverse complexity straight from CAD data.

Its success lies in the significant advantages that additive manufacturing technology offers industry and research:

• it is a cost-effective and fast production method for prototypes, single parts and small-scale series

• it offers the potential of customization and mass customization of products

• it creates improved products through function-oriented design

• it shortens TTM and increases the pace of innovation within the company

• it allows for a more flexible reaction to market needs

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LCM technology is a slurry-based process, where ceramic powder is homogenously dispersed in a photocurable monomer system and selectively polymerized through mask exposure to initially create the so-called green part. These green parts are basically composites of ceramic particles within a photopolymer matrix, which acts as a binder for the ceramic particles. During the thermal post-treatment, the organic matrix is removed via pyrolysis and the particles are densified during sintering to create the final product: a dense ceramic body. These two steps are also typically applied in most conventional ceramic forming technologies.

Generally speaking, LCM technology is suited to process all powder-like and sinterable powders. This has led to a wide spectrum of customer-specific materials being processed using the LCM approach over the last few years.

 

The following video explains the manufacturing process of a ceramic component using LCM technology.

BENEFITS OF THE TOOL-FREE PRODUCTION

SHORTENING TTM (TIME TO MARKET)

Parts that have been manufactured using LCM technology can be used in series production. They are also suitable for primary product testing, to examine the part’s design and functionality. Compared to conventional forming processes, no special tools are needed for additive manufacturing. The design is implemented directly from CAD data.

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Variations in design can be realized within just one manufacturing process. An array of fully functional prototypes can thus be available in a very short amount of time. Design modifications can be carried out directly on the computer without prolonging the waiting period. Thus, the rapid modification and realization of prototypes for new products can significantly shorten TTM.

A brief overview of how LCM benefits you:

direct, tool-free manufacturing from CAD data

• production of various prototypes within one manufacturing process

fast and simple design optimization realized directly on your computer

material properties equal to series production

reduction of research and development duration

GREATER FLEXIBILITY IN DESIGN AND ENHANCEMENT OF FUNCTIONALITY IN YOUR PRODUCTS

Using additive manufacturing technology in the ceramic industry facilitates a shift from production-oriented to function-oriented design engineering. The LCM procedure overcomes limitations of conventional manufacturing technologies such as the issue of unmolding of more complex geometries. This finally allows for the production of highly complex structures.

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Additive manufacturing processes are especially suited for extensive functional integration and performance enhancement of the products. It is through this functional integration that high installation costs can be lowered and more functional products, which are of greater use to the customer, can be created. Lithoz’ LCM technology offers industry and research the prospect of radical product innovation. Furthermore, the LCM procedure can be the key to establishing ceramic products in other markets as well.

A brief overview of how LCM benefits you:

no issue of unmolding due to tool-free production method

realization of bionic designs as well as delicate canals and pore structures

even the most complex geometries at quality level of injection molding

production of undercuts, cavities and thin-walled structures

material properties equal to those of conventional manufacturing processes

MASS CUSTOMIZATION OF PRODUCTS

A great number of manufacturing processes for high-performance ceramics have been established that offer reliable and cost-efficient possibilities for large quantities. Conventional manufacturing processes are an integral part of today’s market.

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However, due to new market requirements, such as mass customization of products or cost-efficient, resource-friendly production of small series or single items, these manufacturing processes often reach their limits. Here, additive manufacturing technologies present themselves as a great addition to conventional procedures.

The Lithoz LCM technology offers great modification and personalization options for ceramic products. While conventional manufacturing processes require individual molds and tools for every component, additive manufacturing allows you to simply modify the CAD data to match the customer’s wishes. The batch-oriented production approach offers the possibility of individualized products with the additional advantages of mass production.

A brief overview of how LCM benefits you:

no additional tool costs due to direct production through CAD data

• simple and cost-efficient individualization of products

• modification of products during the cycle

• economical production from the first part

• on-demand production – more efficient production planning and storage

RESOURCE-EFFICIENT PRODUCTION METHOD FROM BATCH SIZE 1

Compared to subtractive procedures such as turning or milling, which use erosion of materials to attain structures, additive manufacturing uses layers of volume elements to create an object.

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This special manufacturing method only uses the amount of raw material actually necessary for the part’s volume. In addition to the high utilization ratio of material, the procedure also allows you to reuse the material left in the machine. This resource-friendly approach is incredibly cost-efficient, especially in cases where expensive raw materials are used. Thus, additive manufacturing allows for cost-effective production from batch size 1

A brief overview of how LCM benefits you:

minimal expenditure of energy and materials

• remaining material can be used for further production

• LCM process can be operated with fill volume as low as 10 ml

• low capital commitment due to low minimum fill level

• cost-effective production from batch size 1