[rp-ml] Ceramic parts

From: Tom Johnson (povertycrk@netbypass.net)
Date: Wed Aug 10 2005 - 17:29:07 EEST

All this discussion of Nanotechnology is great, but I need to build
large (10+ inch dia.) silicon nitride parts for a new project and hope
to use SLS to make them. Does anyone have experience making larger
components using ceramic powder? I need to know if the machines and
materials exist and if there is a shop that will work with us to develop
these parts.

I have been away from the RP business for years, and have not kept up
with the technology, but am now consulting on a project for a local
manufacturer. The parts we are considering will be difficult to
fabricate by any process other than RP (SLS).
Before I retired in the early '90s, one of the technologies being pushed
was Selective Laser Sintering or SLS using metal or ceramic powder to
make parts directly that could not be made any other way due to their
complexity. At that time, the machines were limited to 10 inch diameter
by 10 inch height.
I know that the SLS process has now been acquired by 3D Systems. I have
not been able to determine if anyone is currently using the process to
make green ceramic parts that can
In 1988, I was manager of a lab at McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and
installed and used the first Stereolithography machine at MDC. We
experimented with it to determine how it could be used in our processes,
and made plastic parts for many of the MDC projects. Our most popular
product was small plastic models of our aircraft which were given away
to other departmental managers as samples showing what could be done
with the technology. We also made models of time critical items such as
space station components - essentially 3D printing. However, I moved on
and then retired, and lost track of the technology.
Tom Johnson

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