New resin-based ceramic creation process able to overcome cracking issues.
New research using ceramics to print materials could be the building blocks for a new generation of spacecraft with components being printed on a 3D printer.
Scientists have found a way to print with the material and overcome the long-time problem that has caused ceramic parts to be discounted as sturdy enough for use, the tendency of the material to crack under stress, according to a story on discovery.com.
The breakthrough discovery could lead to the development of a new class of ceramic body or ceramic engine jets and possibly even a hyper-sonic craft that could make the trip from New York to Tokyo in only a few hours.
Tobias Schaedler, senior scientist at HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California, and his colleagues, invented a resin formulation to be used in a 3D printer that can make parts of almost any size and configuration. The resin parts then can be fired, turning them into a ceramic material that could withstand temperatures in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit and would be up to 10 times as strong as similar materials.
Schaedler said, “If you go very fast, about 10 times speed of sound within the atmosphere, then any vehicle will heat up tremendously because of air friction. People want to build hyper-sonic vehicles and you need ceramics for the whole shell of the vehicle.” He added the research team has developed a pre-ceramic resin that can be printed like a polymer and converted into ceramic. There is some shrinkage involved in the curing process, but because it is uniform, it can be predicted an built into the resin model.
The big take-away is that now designers can make small parts the would have the necessary resistance to ultra-high temperatures generated by air friction during lift-off and re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Pentagon has been funding projects to develop new materials for military and aerospace applications and this new development is bringing them closer to their desired goals.
Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Science Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, speaking of the discovery, said, “The method described in the new Science paper brings us closer to the goal of being able to ‘engineer in’ desired material properties that generally are not found together, such as strength and low density or low weight, and to craft these materials into complex shapes.”