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Silicon nitride - A new material for the LCM technology

Lithoz is the first company worldwide to process silicon nitride (Si3N4) by means of additive manufacturing. Furthermore, the final products show the same physical properties as conventionally manufactured ones. Silicon nitride is a special ceramic material suitable for extreme environmental conditions. Using the LCM in combination with this powerful ceramic material allows novel applications for the respective industry or research institutes.

The developed material is a so-called β-SiAlON. The most outstanding material properties include the high toughness and strength at a very low density. The excellent thermal shock resistance makes silicon nitride the ideal candidate for applications requiring a very high tolerance to temperature fluctuations. Also silicon nitride is a reliable material withstanding dynamic mechanical stresses.  

The application of special materials in harsh environments requires an intensive evaluation of the geometry of the component, even more so in the prototype phase. The production of prototypes by means of the LCM process offers particular advantages during this first phase of design. The tool-free manufacturing method enables the rapid and cost-effective production of different prototypes on a single building job. The fully functional prototypes can be evaluated in a close-to-production environment.

The following video was developed within the research project ToMax. The video shows the high thermal shock resistance of a silicon nitride component produced by LCM technology.

The presented rotor is made of silicon nitride and manufactured using the LCM technology. It was heated up to 800°C and rapidly quenched to room temperature. The additive manufactured component performed similar to a conventional manufactured one – hence, the shown field test was a success.

Due to the special properties of the material, possible applications for additive manufactured silicon nitride could be the aviation and aerospace industry, in the field of sliding wear applications and metal forming, as well as in the biomedical sector. Focusing on the latter, silicon nitride could be particularly interesting in the area of permanent implants.

Lithoz Standard Materials

High material competence by Lithoz

Lithoz offers its customers a diversity of materials for additive manufacturing of high performance ceramics. All the materials are optimally adjusted to the complete system of Lithoz and allow for the manufacturing of high-quality parts. Currently Lithoz offers three different standard materials: LithaLox (Al2O3), LithaCon (ZrO2) and LithaBone (Ca3(PO4)2). Through many years of experience in Research and Development the Team of Lithoz has material competence in glass ceramics, oxide  nitride and carbide.

LithaLox HP 500

Material properties Aluminiumoxide (Al2O3)

- High hardness
- High strength
- Temperature resistance
- High abrasion resistance
- Corrosion resistance

Aluminiumoxide (Al2O3) is one of the most important oxide ceramic materials. With a purity of 99.9 % it has excellent mechanical, chemical and electrical characteristics that are suitable for a wide range of applications.

LithaCon 3Y 610 Purple

Material properties Zirconiumoxide (ZrO2)

- High fracture toughness
- Very good tribological properties
- Low thermal conductivity
- High flexural and tensile strength
- High abrasion and corrosion resistance
- Oxygenion conductivity

Zirconia (ZrO2) distinguishes itself from other ceramic materials by its exceptional toughness and strength. Thus, zirconia can be used for mechanical and tribological highly stressed components as well as for biomedical applications and prosthetics.

LithaBone TCP 200

Material properties Tricalciumphosphate (Ca3(PO4)2

- High biocompatibility
- High osteoconductivity
- High resorbability

Tricalciumphosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) is especially suited to be used as bone substitute due to its similarity to the mineral phase of the human bone and osteoconductive characteristics.