Currently, the company produces ceramic products with flexible geometries and feature sizes down to just 400 µm. This 3D-printing process offers a cost effective solution for producing small complex ceramics on a large scale, the company claims.
"The new R&D laboratory will enable us to develop a greater understanding of 3D printing; characterising powders and inks to allow faster development and more effective solutions for customers," Sam O'Callaghan, Research Group Leader said.
In 3D printing, particle size distribution is an important factor, but shape can also play a significant role. According to the company, their new Qicpic image analysis sensor allows both to be measured simultaneously in a dry atmosphere similar to the “in use” environment.
The new lab also features a Freeman FT4 Powder Rheometer, which allows for seven different test types, resulting in 21 different powder properties. These are being combined with the company's know-how to build a powder operating window.
An additional equipment used in the new facility involves ink characterisation techniques based on a Pixdro inkjet printer, fitted with same print-head system installed across all of the R&D prototype and pilot plant printers. This provides diversity as well as cost saving experiments, assessing alternative suppliers and reagents, the company announced.
Finally, the lab also features a mixer torque rheometer that enables powder-ink interactions to be measured. This enables the experts to define the ideal printer settings prior to printing as well as giving them a background understanding of why certain powders perform differently to others.