3D Printing for the Aerospace and Investment Casting Industry
“Lithoz technology enables us to additively produce ceramic molds that meet the high demands of the investment casting process. With the help of investment in the now delivered printing system, this process will be further developed into an industrial manufacturing process. In the future, this will make it possible to produce components that are hardly imaginable today. The partnership with Lithoz and the EAH Jena allows us to eagerly work towards this goal.”
Dr. Holger Reichenbächer, deputy managing director of Schubert & Salzer Feinguß GmbH
Our Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) technology enables the efficient production of ceramic cores and shells with improved designs and outstanding quality. This innovative process offers a cost-efficient and fast production method for the investment casting of turbine engines and power generation components. It bypasses the costly and laborious fabrication of molds required in injection molding and lost wax casting. LCM is a trusted manufacturing technology in a range of industrial fields, including the aerospace, aeronautical and investment casting industries, and Lithoz has a wide range of materials available to suit your needs.
3D-printed ceramic cores for superalloy aircraft turbine blades
LCM technology is Lithoz’s tried-and-tested industrial production method for the most recent ceramic casting cores. Trusted by industrial manufacturers worldwide, this system offers a significantly faster time-to-market in combination with shorter development cycles as it does not require molds, which are expensive and time-consuming to produce. These numerous advantages make LCM a perfect choice when it comes to the manufacture of casting cores for the aerospace industry.
Applications include cores for single crystals (SX), along with directionally solidified (DS) and equiax-cast (EX) super-alloy aeronautical turbine blades. Cores with complex branching structures, multiple walls and fine trailing edges (smaller than 200µm) can be produced quickly and economically, with the final components having consistent dimensional accuracy and excellent surface finishing.
Casting cores for industrial gas turbines
The requirements for producing new designs of multi-vane, complex, narrow feature cores go beyond the limits of consistently successful mold and tool-based processes. Our CeraFab Systems offer a tool-free solution, allowing for increasingly complex designs to be manufactured. Using our technology, casting cores of sizes up to 500 mm can be manufactured. Lithoz provides a reliable and efficient solution in place of conventional investment casting technologies, ranging from prototyping to the production of large cores needed for industrial gas turbines.
The direct 3D printing of casting cores is now possible using our CeraFab Systems. During the LCM process, ceramic powder is blended with a photocurable resin to produce a ceramic-loaded mixture known as slurry. This slurry is then cured, layer-by-layer, in the CeraFab S230 3D printer. Lithoz 3D printers are able to reliably manufacture features down to and even below 200µm through the use of tailored core and resin formulations alongside highly accurate and reproducible digital light projection (DLP). Casting cores with complex branching, multiple walls, fine trailing edges, and thru-holes can all be produced, opening the door to more complex and customer-specific designs than ever before. After being printed, the cores undergo thermal debinding and sintering processes in a similar way to non-additive manufacturing processes, resulting in fully finished industrial components.
LithaCore 450 is the perfect material for the 3D printing of casting cores for industrial applications. With a very low rate of thermal expansion, high porosity and outstanding surface quality (Ra < 3 μm), the desirable properties of this material ensure that internal channels in the final cast alloy have a smooth finish and exceptional leachability. In addition, results from dimensional inspections performed on cores printed via LCM show a maximum deviation of
< 0.1 mm from the CAD model, which is well within the expected dimensional compliance for casting core application.