3D Printing in Silicon Carbide

3D printing in silicon carbide

Introduction 3D Printing in Silicon Carbide

Silicon Carbide is a ceramic material consisting of the chemical elements silicon (Si) and carbon (C) that is highly versatile in its use due to some exceptional properties. These include high thermal stability, high thermal conductivity, electric conductivity, chemical resistance, and extreme hardness. There are different kinds of Silicon Carbide (SiC) ceramics. The following article will deal with the so-called SiSiC, meaning silicon infiltrated Silicon Carbide.

Silicon Carbide is used in a range of high-tech industries including the metallurgical industry, semiconductors, aerospace, the defence industry (typically for body armour), in refractories and as a general hard-wearing ceramic. It is also one of the certified materials for CONCR3DE’s Armadillo Blue 3D printer for metals and technical ceramics. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the manufacturing process of Silicon Carbide in binder jetting, its applications, and properties.

Binder jetting Silicon Carbide process

Binder jetting is a 3D printing technology in which a powder and binder are fused on a print bed. A 3D printer deposits a thin layer of Silicon Carbide powder on which a binder is jetted using a cross section of a CAD model. Layer by layer, the final shape is built up in this manner and, after completion, retrieved from the print box.

All non-used powder can be fully reused. After the parts have been printed, they have to undergo a series of post-processing treatments. First, they have to be left in the printing box for drying, and then placed in an oven. Afterwards, the powder is removed from the parts. Next, they are placed in a kiln to undergo post-processing treatments that involve the application of heat. One of which is sintering, which is done at 1860°C. Lastly, the parts are infiltrated with liquid silicon to decrease their porosity and form secondary Silicon Carbide of free carbon and silicon, to increase the Silicon Carbide content.

What qualities of Silicon Carbide make it useful?

There are several reasons why Silicon Carbide is useful for a range of applications:

0% Shrinkage

Silicon Carbide printed via binder jetting stands out for its zero percent shrinking during the sintering process. This characteristic ensures that the final product retains its exact proportions, eliminating the need for difficult scaling operations during the design phase.

High-temperature

Silicon Carbide thrives in high-temperature environments, maintaining its structural integrity even at extreme temperatures, up to 1200°C. This characteristic makes it useful for industries that require reliability under intense heat.

Exceptional abrasion resistance

When it comes to resisting wear, scratches, and abrasion, Silicon Carbide is second to none. With a Mohs hardness rating of 9.5 -which is just below diamond- it is a natural choice for parts subjected to severe abrasive forces.

Main Advantages of Silicon Carbide parts printed through binder jetting

Producing Silicon Carbide parts with CONCR3DE’s binder jetting technology is advantageous for various reasons. It is fast, no milling is required producing zero waste, and each product can be fully customised. There are more reasons why binder jetting is the right technology for manufacturing Silicon Carbide:

Speed of production and reduced lead times
Silicon Carbide printed through binder jetting drastically reduces lead times and speeds up production. Traditional manufacturing methods involve time-consuming processes like tooling and shaping, causing delays. In contrast, binder jetting deposits material layer by layer, streamlining production and significantly shortening lead times. Additionally, as Silicon Carbide is a very hard material, shaping it leads to high wear of the tooling used and significant cost in replacing worn tooling. This can be prevented by using 3D printing.

Off the shelf solution with Armadillo Blue
We offer a complete off-the-shelf solution with our Armadillo printer, Silicon Carbide powder, and binder. This proven standardized solution allows you to embark on your Silicon Carbide printing journey instantly, eliminating the hassle of testing and sourcing equipment and materials separately.

Precision for large parts
Binder jetting is the technology of choice for manufacturing large, precise parts with Silicon Carbide. For this reason, it is ideal for producing large machine parts that have complicated shapes. With our help large-scale printer, you can print parts up to 3 x 6 x 1 metres in size.

Unlocking complex geometries
Engineers and designers can use binder jetting technology to build large, extremely detailed items with high precision. Traditional manufacturing methods that involve pressing cannot shape tiny details.

Waste-free production
Silicon Carbide binder jetting is an additive manufacturing method that allows for the complete recycling of unbound powder. This way, the production process becomes virtually free from waste. While this recycled powder may have slight differences from the “raw powder”, it remains highly suitable for printing. In fact, you can use approximately 90% recycled powder for a new print. The other recycled powder can be used for the next print after that, as only 10% fresh powder is required. This significantly reduces waste and resource consumption.

Versatility with particle-filled binders
While our 3D printers (including the key model the Armadillo White) predominantly operate with aqueous binders, they can also be used with particle-filled binders, which typically increase material density.

Partnership with WZR, leaders in ceramics 3D printing materials
Our collaboration with WZR, the leading service provider in the development of technical ceramics for 3D printing, guarantees that you are on the front row for updates and breakthroughs in this area. CONCR3DE and WZR continue pushing the boundaries of what Silicon Carbide binder jetting can achieve.

To summarise, the advantages of printing Silicon Carbide with CONCR3DE binder jetting 3D printers include:

  • High-speed production and reduced lead times
  • Plug & play solution
  • Large parts at incredible precision
  • Creating highly complex geometry with ease
  • Waste-free production
Silicon Carbide 3D printed body armour
Silicon Carbide 3D printed body armour

Law enforcement: reinventing body armor with Silicon Carbide

This Silicon Carbide body armour was made using the Armadillo Blue 3D printer, in collaboration with WZR

The mechanical qualities of Silicon Carbide make it a good material for personalized protection applications, particularly body armour or anything that involves high resistance. Due to its hardness (9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale), Silicon Carbide offers unmatched protection against blunt force attacks or ballistic impacts. This makes the material very useful for police officers and other law enforcement personnel.

What truly sets binder jetting apart is its flexibility. No moulds are required, allowing the creation of personalized body armour tailored to individual users. Whether it is optimizing fit, protection, or comfort, Silicon Carbide body armour can be uniquely designed to meet the specific needs of each user.

Latest news

INTAM™ PPA material

INTAM™ PPA material Polyphthalamide (PPA) is a semi-crystalline, aromatic polyamide. It is in the polyamide, or nylon, family. Compared to Nylon PA6, it is stronger, stiffer,

Read More »