EXTRUSION BASED CERAMIC 3D PRINTING - PRINTER DEVELOPMENT, PART CHARACTERIZATION, AND MODEL-BASED SYSTEMS ENGINEERING ANALYSIS
Ceramics have been extensively used in aerospace, automotive, medical, and energy industries due to their unique combination of mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties. The objective of this thesis is to develop an extrusion based ceramic 3D printing process to digitally produce a casting mold. To achieve the objective, an in-house designed ceramic 3D printer was developed by converting a filament based plastic 3D printer. For mold making applications, zircon was selected because it is an ultra-high temperature ceramic with high toughness and good refractory properties. Additionally, alumina, bioglass, and zirconia slurries were formulated and used as the feedstock material for the ceramic 3D printer.
The developed 3D printing system was used to demonstrate successful printing of special feature parts such as thin-walled high aspect ratio structures and biomimetically inspired complex structures. Also, proof of concept with regard to the application of 3D printing for producing zircon molds and casting of metal parts was also successfully demonstrated.
To characterize the printed parts, microhardness test, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses were conducted. The zircon samples showed an increase in hardness value with an initial increase in heat treatment temperature followed by a drop due to the development of porosity in the microstructure, caused by the decomposition of the binder. The peak hardness value for zircon was observed to be 101±10 HV0.2. Similarly, the microhardness values of the other 3D printed ceramic specimens were observed to increase from 37±3 to 112±5 HV0.2 for alumina, 23±5 to 35±1 HV0.2 for bioglass, and 22±5 to 31±3 HV0.2 for zirconia, before and after the heat-treatment process, respectively.
Finally, a system model for the ceramic 3D printing system was developed through the application of the model-based systems engineering (MBSE) approach using the MagicGrid framework. Through the system engineering effort, a logical level solution architecture was modeled, which captured the different system requirements, the system behaviors, and the system functionalities. Also, a traceability matrix for the system from a very abstract logical level to the definition of physical requirements for the subsystems was demonstrated.