Improved green and sintered density of alumina parts fabricated by binder jetting and subsequent slurry infiltration
Additive Manufacturing (AM) of ceramics is a constantly emerging field of interest both in research and in industry. Binder jetting-based AM of ceramics in particular offers the opportunity to produce large ceramic parts with a high wall thickness at a high throughput. One limitation is that it requires flowable powders, which are generally coarse and thus exhibit only limited sintering activity. The resulting low sintered densities impede the commercial binder jetting-based production of dense oxide ceramics. We present an approach to efficiently increase the green density of binder jetted alumina parts by optimized slurry infiltration, which also leads to a significant increase in the sintered density. In a first step, alumina parts were fabricated via binder jetting, using a 20-µm-sized alumina powder, yielding relative green densities of about 47-49%. Initial sintering studies with powder compacts showed that sintering even above 1900 °C is not sufficient to achieve acceptable densification. Therefore, green samples were infiltrated with a highly filled ceramic slurry to fill the remaining pores (about 2-5 µm in size) with smaller particles and thus increase the packing density. Particle volume content (40-50 vol%), particle size (100-180 nm) and the infiltration procedure were adapted for tests on cuboid samples to achieve a high penetration of the green bodies and a high degree of pore filling. In this way, the relative green density could be increased starting from about 47% after binder jetting, to 73.4% after infiltration and drying. After sintering at 1675 °C densities above 90% could be achieved, yielding three-point bending strengths up to 145 MPa. As a conclusion, this approach can be regarded as a promising route for overcoming the drawbacks of the binder jetting process on the way to denser, mechanically more stable sintered alumina parts.
Fraunhofer-Center for High-Temperature Materials and Design HTL, Bayreuth, Germany