Chemical company Johnson Matthey has been pursuing additive manufacturing for several years, like many other companies in the chemical industry. Unlike many of its peers, however, Johnson Matthey hasn’t been focusing on plastic 3D printing; it decided to go the ceramics route. Specifically, the company has been exploring binder jet ceramic 3D printing, opening an R&D lab dedicated to the technology a few months ago.
The decision to focus on binder jet ceramic 3D printing sets Johnson Matthey apart from the other chemical giants pursuing 3D printing, and that’s an advantage in itself. The company has several reasons for choosing that particular area of AM, though, including its ability to produce porous components, its flexibility, scalability, cost and speed.
To develop its 3D printing technology, Johnson Matthey turned to voxeljet, which specializes in binder jetting. While voxeljet uses its technologies for the 3D printing of plastic and sand, it has been working with Johnson Matthey to adapt its 3D printers for ceramic powder.
“voxeljet offers great possibilities in tailoring their large format 3D printing platforms to our specific powders and binder requirements,” said Gareth Headdock, R&D Director at Johnson Matthey. “It has enabled us to develop our ceramic 3D printing capabilities to produce unique and innovative solutions for our customers. With this technology it is possible to produce complex and porous components with high print resolutions, excellent surface quality and strength comparable with conventional manufacturing. These parts are suitable for a variety of applications, including medical, automotive and aerospace.”
The UK-based Johnson Matthey is a leader in science and sustainable technologies, and its specialties include the manufacture of catalysts and the optimization of catalytic support media. Despite the fact that ceramic 3D printing is one of the newer technologies in the additive manufacturing industry, Johnson Matthey has been researching it for years, putting it ahead of its time. The company has been using voxeljet’s printers to create complex 3D printed designs, lowering weight, increasing geometric surface area, and increasing efficiency while enabling geometries not possible with other technologies. Thanks to its work with voxeljet and its R&D investment, Johnson Matthey is now a leader in ceramic 3D printing.
“Today, with different scales of voxeljet printing, we have the flexibility to develop a number of products at a development scale, prove the concept at large scale through a prototyping printer, and then produce multi-tonne quantities at production level, all with the benefits of flexibility built in to the manufacturing design,” said Dr. Samantha Thomas, Research Group Leader at Johnson Matthey. “With voxeljet’s broad product portfolio of different system sizes, a great level of productivity and scalability can be reached.”
voxeljet was happy to tailor its machines for Johnson Matthey’s needs; it’s something the company has done for several other companies.
“Over the past years we’ve seen an increased demand for tailoring projects, specifically for different ceramic powders and have successfully developed solutions with JM for production,” said voxeljet CEO Dr. Ingo Ederer. “On the other hand, we’ve also shipped ceramic systems mainly used for B2C applications as well, so the business approaches are quite different. Our goal is to cooperate with JM, an experienced user and developer of different voxeljet platforms for ceramic powders, for specific tailoring projects in order to provide ideal solutions to our customers.”
The two companies will be presenting their collaboration at formnext in Booth E18 in Hall 3.1. voxeljet will be offering a guided tour of its booth on November 14th from 13:45 to 14:15. formnext is taking place in Frankfurt from November 14th to the 17th, and 3DPrint.com is looking forward to attending and speaking with the voxeljet team on-site.
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