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The 3D Printed Ceramic Probe (Aerospace Application)

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Producing complex parts with ceramics is challenging and costly with 3D printing. There are more then several vendors in the industry that sell mid and high-end systems that enables printing mostly two materials - Zirconia and Alumina. Nanoe, a French material company, the developer of the Zetamix technology, developed a new and innovative solution that offer the ability to print ceramic filament using desktop FDM 3D printers. Here is story of one of their customers:

Avignon Ceramic produces ceramic parts for foundry, aerospace and energy industries. The company is historically an expert in ceramic injection molding and produces state-of the art parts such as aerospace cores. In the past 3 years, Avignon Ceramic has been using ceramic 3D printing to replace metal cores that are usually produced by traditional methods.

Probes are massively used in aerospace to quantify the speed of plane. Thanks to five bent internal channels, the probe measures the dynamic and static pressure. Then, a captor measures the gap between both pressures and deducts the speed of the fluid. Usually, these probes are produced in metal and therefore do not allow the measurement of fluids in extreme environment. Probes can adopt a wide range of design depending on the use, but the internal channels are a crucial aspect that cannot be changed.

Avignon Ceramic is producing new probes that are able to measure the air speed in high velocity and high temperature environment. Unlike metal probes, such parts can withstand over 2000°C and supersonic flow as well as extreme thermal shocks.. One of the best candidate material for this kind of application is Alumina.

Avignon ceramics decided to produce this probe by ceramic 3D printing process. Indeed, ceramics 3D printing is the only shaping process that enable the production of complex ceramic parts with internal channel. The solution that was chosen is the Zetamix technology – a combination of an Alumina filament, FDM 3D printer, and an accessible furnacing system. It allows printing hollow out parts and honey comb structure that cannot be obtained by other processes.

Printing this kind of internal structuration bring several advantages that must be considered. First, honey comb structure allows to save matter - less filament is used than with a full-bodied structure. Second, this design reduces the weight of the part, that is crucial in cutting edge technology such as aerospace. Above all, honey comb structure makes the part more resistant to thermal shocks which frequently occurred in a plane engine. Furthermore, producing thick side can be really tricky in ceramic 3D printing because they can bend and break during the debinding and sintering processes. Printing honey comb side make possible to avoid this constraint and print bigger part.

Because these parts not only have to be in ceramic but also have to be equipped with internal channel it is impossible to produce with regular processes than 3D printing. By choosing Zetamix technology, Avignon Ceramic insures to produce part with excellent mechanical property thanks to the incredible variety of internal structures that can be printed.


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