Maxon acquires C900 Flex ceramic AM system from 3DCeram »


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After intensive market analysis, specialist DC motor firm maxon acquired a ceramic 3D printer from French producer 3DCeram. The C900 Flex system was custom-made to satisfy the corporate’s particular necessities. “For us, the primary promoting factors had been the precision and the moderately giant printing space of 300 by 300 millimeters,” explains Zilm. The printer relies on the stereolithography technique, by which a laser solidifies an emulsion consisting of binder and ceramic powder, and thus constructs a element layer by layer from backside to high. The layers are between 0.025 and 0.125 millimeters thick. After every layer has been utilized, the printer mattress strikes down one step. This ensures even shrinkage through the solidification, in addition to excessive precision and rendering of very effective particulars.

Maxon is famend for its drive expertise, which has traveled all the best way to Mars in numerous NASA rovers. The corporate additionally has a high-tech division for technical ceramics in Sexau, Germany. Right here ceramic parts at the moment are additionally 3D printed and perfected with lasers on the C900 Flex system.

Greater than 20 years in the past, the query was posed “What’s much more wear-proof than metal and may be became axes and shafts for our planetary gearheads, to make them much more exact and dependable?” Stefan Zilm, Head of Enterprise Growth & High quality Engineering on the Competence Heart CIM/MIM at maxon, Sexau, is aware of the reply: ceramic parts produced with ceramic injection molding, a course of that’s much like steel injection molding.

As we speak, the corporate has intensive know-how within the subject of technical ceramics. With CIM, parts may be series-produced in portions of a number of tens of hundreds. But, despite all of the expertise, and even with using state-of-the-art engineering strategies comparable to CAD, finite aspect calculations and simulations, the truth stays the final word take a look at that determines whether or not a brand new thought is sound, or whether or not a ceramic half may be produced in any respect and behaves as deliberate.

The customary path from thought to actual ceramic element is lengthy and dear. An costly mildew is required to create the inexperienced compact to be sintered. Subsequently, it’s turned and minimize, sintered and sanded in work-intensive processes. Zilm admits: “For a primary pattern, that is very sophisticated, it prices a whole lot of money and time.”

Maxon acquires C900 Flex ceramic AM system from 3DCeram Additive to speed up production of prototype parts and open up new possibilities.
The C900 Flex ceramic AM system from 3DCeram

Ceramic out of the printer

However there may be another choice: utilizing the shortcut provided by 3D printing, which is already well-established for plastic parts and is more and more additionally getting used for metals. Whereas printing of plastic and steel has been a part of industrial manufacturing for a number of years now, ceramic printing remains to be within the technique of venturing from the lab to the manufacturing facility halls. However the benefits had been so tempting that maxon already began pilot exams 5 years in the past, with the purpose of getting prototypes of ceramic parts to the purchasers sooner – and performing some actual pioneering work. Zilm: “With such a printer, the primary two to a few improvement loops may be accomplished quite a bit simpler and sooner.”

A help construction just isn’t required. The particular power of 3DCeram programs such because the C900 Flex is that it’s also doable to create very small components, with a quantity of solely 50 cubic millimeters.

Relying on the necessities, ceramic parts are normally made from zirconium and aluminum oxides. These are the “bread and butter” supplies of the technical ceramics subject. Each can be found as emulsions for the 3D printer. The debinding and sintering expertise corresponds to the CIM process, with the outcome that the inexperienced compacts created within the 3D printer can progress by way of the identical manufacturing programs because the sequence components. Relying on the complexity of the specified element and the required tolerance stage, small sequence are additionally doable and different to ceramic injection molding (CIM).

In response to Zilm, the process does have its limits, as a result of diameter of the UV laser beam, which de- termines which minimal wall thicknesses may be produced. The parts are cleaned utilizing compressed air and an additive, to take away extra materials from the element. Holes with sizes of 0.5 milli- meters and smaller can’t be made as completely spherical as in injection molding, however for prototypes, it normally suffices.

Growth companions from the beginning

As we speak, the shopper merely sends a file within the standardized STEP format (Normal for the Alternate of Product mannequin knowledge) that has turn into commonplace in 3D printing and will get a proposal shortly thereafter. Simply 10 to 14 days after the order affirmation, the shopper can already maintain the primary prototype components of their arms. “Up to now, that took a number of weeks and even months, and concerned excessive mildew prices,” remembers Zilm.

Ideally, the shopper entails maxon proper from the beginning. “We’re improvement companions from the primary thought and might thus affect the design to make it as appropriate for ceramics as doable,” explains Zilm. Thus it’s doable, for instance, to mix a number of parts right into a single element with optimized performance. In response to Zilm, such optimizations are crucial, contemplating that the worth for a kilogram of the commodities wanted for ceramic is round ten occasions that of metal. “We’ve to justify this by offering considerably higher performance, as an example by way of put on resistance, temperature stability or not requiring lubricants.”

However the limits of additive manufacturing haven’t but been reached. Andreas Philipp, Head of the Competence Heart CIM/MIM, is definite: “We’ve to start out pondering in 3D and never in a classical method as earlier than.” Then fully new potentialities will open up in order that 3D printing might be an actual different to the established processes.


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