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LCM Technology

Lithography-based
Ceramic Manufacturing
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What is Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) Technology

Powered by Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) technology, Lithoz’s industry-oriented 3D printers are the answer to the reliable serial production of additively manufactured ceramics. Our CeraFab System fulfil even the highest requirements of high-performance ceramics. Mechanical performance, dimensional accuracy and the reproducibility of ceramic parts have been tested to meet and exceed conventional ceramic methods.

Starting with a CAD model, the first step of the process is the job preparation and optimization. The information for the job is digitally transferred to the 3D printer direct from your computer.

The ceramic-loaded liquid (or slurry) is automatically dosed and coated on top of a transparent vat. The movable building platform is dipped into the slurry, which is then selectively exposed to visible light from below the vat. The layer image is generated via a digital micro-mirror device (DMD) coupled with a state-of-the-art projection system. By repeating this process, a three-dimensional green part can be generated layer-by-layer.

The LCM technology leverages decades of ceramic powder processing experience. By using the same powders and furnaces as injection molding, ceramic parts with outstanding mechanical properties and surface quality are produced. Following thermal post-processing, the binder is removed and the green parts are sintered, resulting in fully-dense ceramic parts.

HOW IT WORKS
ACCELERATE YOUR COMPANY’S COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

DEVELOP REVENUE-GENERATING PRODUCTS WITH FUNCTION-ORIENTED DESIGNS

By overcoming the design constrictions of conventional technologies, companies can now explore new designs for improving the function of products and develop revenue-generating applications.

An overview of how LCM can drive your product innovation forward:

  • manufacture bionic designs, as well as canals and pore structures
  • adapt product functionality and boost product value for end customers
  • produce undercuts, cavities and structures with thin walls
  • material properties which meet and exceed those of conventional manufacturing processes

ACCELERATE YOUR TIME-TO-MARKET AND RENOVATE YOUR PRODUCTION FACILITY WITH A FASTER AND TOOL-FREE ITERATION

As a tool-free process, LCM makes the direct modification of designs made from CAD data easy and product testing is accelerated, significantly shorting the time-to-market of new products.

Furthermore, LCM solves the problem of unmolding fine and complex geometries and avoids machinery-related defects while still meeting industrial expectations of ceramic properties.

A brief overview of how LCM accelerates time-to-market:

  • direct manufacturing from CAD data
  • fast and simple design optimization and product testing
  • an array of fully functional parts in just one printing job
  • eliminates unmolding or machining issues due to tool-free production method

DRIVE COST-EFFECTIVE MASS CUSTOMIZATION OF PRODUCTS

While conventional manufacturing processes require individual molds and tools for every component, additive manufacturing allows you to easily modify the CAD data to meet the customer’s wishes. A batch-oriented production approach offers the possibility of creating individualized products with the additional advantages of mass production.

A brief overview of how LCM benefits you through adding value to your customers:

  • offers great flexibility and personalization for ceramic products
  • simple and cost-effective individualization of products
  • economical production from the first part
  • on-demand production – more efficient production planning and storage
APPLICATIONS

3D-printed ceramic cores for super alloy aircraft 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

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.

High-efficient impeller for micro-turbines

Using ceramic rotors rather than metal decreases the inertial force and consequently reduces delay. Additionally, these rotors are exposed to very hot gas and therefore must be durable under such conditions. Previously, intricate components were impossible to produce using silicon nitride due to the limitations of conventional machining methods.

Revenue-generating nozzles for chip manufacturing

By using a function-oriented design, Alumina Systems GmbH developed a ceramic distribution ring for semiconductor chip coating which triples the production volume of chips compared to conventional solutions.

A solution to conventional manufacturing for miniature components

The production of highly complex and precise ceramic components in the millimetre and sub-millimetre range requires a technology which meets the demand of having a high degree of both accuracy and repeatability. Conventional technologies (such as milling, drilling, grinding and ceramic injection molding) have limitations when it comes to very small or thin objects. The LCM technology guarantees the highest level of dimensional control and the production of parts with features as small as 100 µm.

BIODEGRADABLE AND BIOINERT CERAMICS FOR THE JAWBONE

Critically large bone defects can be the result of severe trauma, such as a comminuted fracture of the jaw or bone resection due to bone tumors. The challenge in treating such large defects is that the bone itself is not able to heal the defect without appropriate measures. A dual approach is presented here, in which a cage made of high-strength zirconia gives support during the healing phase and where the inner volume of the implant is made up of bioresorbable beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP).

BIORESORBABLE PATIENT-SPECIFIC IMPLANTS

Tricalcium phosphate (TCP) and hydroxyapatite (HA) are common materials used in bioresorbable implants due to their similarity to the inorganic fraction of bone tissue. By resorption of the material in the body a regrowth of native tissue and thus an ideal healing effect can be achieved without the need for removal of the implant after the healing process. For the designing process data from computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used. Thus, a maximum fit of the implant to the operation site can be achieved.

OPEN PORE CELL SCAFFOLD

AM is well suited to produce ceramic scaffolds that mimic the complex spongy structure of bone, allows it to be both lightweight and strong. Scaffolds allow the in growth of bone cells and provide pathways for vascularization, which accelerates the healing process by enabling the transport of nutrients and removal of metabolic waste. LCM can produce both precisely defined and highly reproducible macro porosity and textured surfaces on the microporous structures, which together can improve osteoblast adhesion and coverage.