Plastics and metal still account for much of the 3D printing industry today. But ceramics is becoming an important player thanks to technological advances and improved material developments. This is especially in industries like research institutes, aeronautics, aerospace, bio medicine, and energy.
Initially, 3D printing was catered in consideration towards the creation of complex designs, that couldn’t be achieved with any other available processes. Complexity however was the least important concern for many in reality, with cost the key consideration instead.
While a 3D printed part is more expensive than a part created conventionally today, this situation gets flipped when 3D printing is used to make a single element utilizing several functions. If a single 3D printed part replaces three conventionally produced parts, assembly and installation are simplified as a result while lowering costs.
In terms of 3D printing speeds, ceramics still lags behind plastics and metals. But this isn’t really much of a concern now, because there’s not a great deal of demand for it. The printing speed problem is more for those working with plastics and metal. For ceramics, the printing time is shorter than the firing time. Thus, the focus is on shortening the firing time which requires work on the organic constituents.
The development of ceramics traditionally is time-consuming and expensive because of tooling costs and requires large-scale production to break even. Because there’s no tooling involved with ceramics 3D printing, development is shorter and less costly. Mass customization instead of production is enabled, without the need to produce 10,000 items to break even the cost.
Another plus with ceramics 3D printing is that the restart of large-scale production can be avoided, by producing small quantities of objects like foundry cores. This is essential for industries that have to be responsive, flexible, and require to test iterations before going into production.
With increasing demand and the advent of new applications, the ceramics 3D printing market is set for further growth amounting to USD 104.16 billion by 2023.