AMS Spring 2023

Sintratec: Hybrid Materials Laboratory Case Study Focuses on Porous Ceramic Structures

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“We will benefit more and more from the possibilities of additive technologies,”           –  Professor Alberto Ortona

Sintratec has just released a case study featuring The Hybrid Materials Laboratory at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) and their latest work as they create new 3D printing composites. Headquartered in Ticino, Switzerland, SUPSI used a variety of different equipment during their extremely sophisticated development phase, to include the Sintratec Kit.

With a focus on reusability, especially for applications like aerospace, Professor Alberto Ortona, head of the Hybrid Materials Laboratory at the Institute for Mechanical Engineering and Materials Technology (MEMTi) at SUPSI, explains why they are engaged in their current research:

 “A space vehicle enters the atmosphere from a low earth orbit with a speed of roughly 30’000 km/h. The vehicle is then decelerated by the friction of air which converts its kinetic energy into heat. As a result, the outer surface gets extremely hot.”

Professor Alberto Ortona, Director of the Hybrid Materials Laboratory at the Institute for Mechanical Engineering and Materials Technology (MEMTi) at SUPSI

The MEMTi team realized that new hybrid materials needed to be developed to prevent structures from burning on their re-entry mission; for example, parts made from advanced ceramics can tolerate harsh environmental conditions over the long-term, like high temperatures and thermal shock. These types of materials can also be re-used from mission to mission, rather than replaced after every single expedition.

Simone Vitullo, Research Assistant at MEMTi, at his workplace in the Hybrid Materials Laboratory.

Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) are comprised of high-quality, lightweight lattices that often cannot be produced through any other method than additive manufacturing; in fact, for some of the new parts they are creating there is simply no other route than through additive manufacturing.

The team was also involved in THOR, an EU research project. They developed a series of ‘complex sandwich structures’ from ceramics, meant to be cooled via gas flows—further allowing space vehicle parts to be manipulated through thermal protection systems.

Prototypes of catalyst substrates which swirl the exhaust gas flow: The two gyroid structures have the same size but are 3D printed with different parameters. This leads to diverse micro-porosities and mechanical properties.

Currently the researchers are creating composites far beyond the norm, and even with porous materials, all useful in applications such as:

  • Heat exchangers
  • Heating burners
  • Solar systems
  • Catalytic converters
  • Water filtration systems

SLA 3D printers have been available at the Hybrid Materials Laboratory for 15 years, but at this point the researchers point out that they require new AM processes—like selective laser sintering (SLS) for fabrication of more complex designs like their porous ceramics and parts called gynoids.

“Thanks to the open parameters of the Sintratec Kit, we were able to define the 3D printed objects with the best properties required to apply the ceramic coating optimally to the template,” said Oscar Santoliquido, research assistant at MEMTi. “The SLS technology allows us to create complex grid structures quickly and easily.”

The Sintratec Kit is designed for use in the following fields:

  • Medical
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Industrial design
  • Durable spare parts
  • Education
  • Research
  • Model building

Find out more about the case study here.

Ceramics have been associated with 3D printing now in many different projects, from bioinspired materials to parts produced on the nanoscale, other composite materials, and more. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Sintratec]

 

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