LCM – Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing
Based on the concept of additive manufacturing technologies a specific procedure for the structuring of ceramics was developed at the Vienna University of Technology. This concept was further optimized and brought to the market by Lithoz. The new procedure makes the fast and economical generation of both single parts and small scale series possible, with material properties being equal to serial parts from conventional manufacturing processes.
Lithoz offers a complete solution, which allows the production of a functioning ceramic part directly from the respective CAD-data. This ranges from specifically developed software, the development of the ceramic materials and a state-of-the-art production system to the final sintering of the parts.
The technology is based on the selective curing of a photosensitive resin which contains homogeneously dispersed ceramic particles. The centerpiece of the process is a specifically designed imaging system which enables the transfer of the layer information by means of the latest LED-technology. This innovative imaging technique along with special projection optics even allows the production of small structures and very fine details.
Photopolymers – the key to success
Photopolymers constitute the backbone of the formed part during the production process. They act as binder between the ceramic particles and make the precise shaping of the part possible. They also allow high densities of the green body and thus lead to extremely high densities of the sintered product. Since the curing of the material takes place under ambient temperatures, the formation of thermal stresses can be avoided.
In analogy to powder injection molding, the shaped form is produced as a green body that has to be further processed to obtain a completely dense ceramic part. These post-processing steps include the debinding, i.e. the thermal decomposition of the binder and the subsequent sintering into a compact ceramic part. This procedure eventually results in parts consisting of 100% ceramic material which exhibit mechanical properties equal to conventionally fabricated parts