CeraFab Lab L30: Lithoz aims for entry into high performance ceramic 3D printing »3D Printing Media Network
A pioneer in ceramic 3D printing, Lithoz has spent a lot of time and effort making its technology viable for production applications. Although this is the end goal of many additive manufacturing companies, Lithoz recently took a different path, going back to its roots to bring an entry-level ceramic additive manufacturing system to market at a lower cost. : the CeraFab Lab L30.
The 3D printer, which has lower initial costs than Lithoz’s production systems, is designed with one key idea in mind: accessibility. In other words, Lithoz set out to build a ceramic 3D printer that would be suitable for research labs, application and material developers, and even industrial users.
We had the opportunity to discover the CeraFab Lab L30 in detail thanks to a exclusive interview with Dr Johannes Benedikt, CTO of Lithoz, but now we take a closer look than ever. The new Lithoz video shows the starting system up close and personal.
Closing a gap in the market
After developing its portfolio of production-quality 3D printers, in particular with the CeraFab System Series—Lithoz realized that there was still an unfulfilled gap in the AM ceramics market. Specifically, there was no real solution for researchers or application and material developers looking for high-quality capabilities, machine flexibility, and a lower price tag.
The CeraFab Lab L30 stands out on three fronts: the system incorporates the same rotary vessel and the same mechanics as the Lithoz production systems and is thus capable of producing high quality parts; it is an open platform, which means it can work with an unlimited range of oxidized ceramic slurries; and it is available at a much lower price than production grade ceramic AM machines, making it accessible to a much wider range of users.
Lithoz has achieved this lower cost in several ways. On the one hand, the CeraFab Lab L30 is smaller than the CeraFab System series: the former has a maximum build size of 76 x 43 x 170 mm, while the latter has build envelopes up to 192 x 120 x 500 mm. The entry-level 3D printer also has less automation features, which are essential to ensure repeatability in production systems. It also gives the user more control over the print settings in the CeraFab Lab L30, which is vital for materials and application development.
Beyond the lower hardware costs, the CeraFab Lab L30 has lower operating costs than other printers available on the market. This is largely due to the low material consumption of the machine, which is also a key differentiator of all Lithoz CeraFab 3D printers. The CeraFab Lab uses an upside down manufacturing process that requires as little as 15ml of suspension for printing. Plus, any remaining material can be reused without having to remove it. This approach also contributes to faster part installation and removal times.
The central idea of CeraFab Lab L30, as Dr Benedikt succinctly explained, “is to have a machine with which researchers can work not only on materials but also on applications. When the application is developed, it can be easily scaled using the production system because the optical system, parameters and materials are the same.
The ideal entry into AM ceramics
The CeraFab Lab L30 3D printer was designed by Lithoz to balance cost and quality: optimize one without compromising the other. Beyond the price, however, is the fact that the machine is user-friendly, with easy-to-use features that reduce the learning curve of ceramic additive manufacturing.
Ultimately, Lithoz aims to make ceramic additive manufacturing more accessible so that more materials and applications can be developed using the high quality standards of Lithoz technology. The increase in the number of materials and applications will in turn lead to the proliferation of production-grade ceramic 3D printing in many industries, from healthcare to aerospace.
Lithoz recently showcased the capability of the system with the production of an aerospike alumina nozzle. The case study serves to demonstrate the ability of the CeraFab Lab L30 to produce complex geometries with high resolution and excellent surface quality, which means that the parts do not require expensive post-processing like machining and grinding after printing. With a wafer thickness of 25 µm to 100 µm and a lateral resolution as fine as 50 µm, the entry-level 3D printer falls within the high-quality range of the production-grade CeraFab System series.
So whether you are a researcher exploring the viability of a new ceramic 3D printing material, an application developer looking to compare the advantages of 3D printing over conventional ceramic production, or an industrial company optimizing an existing component for ceramic AM, the CeraFab Lab L30 is a promising option.
The CeraFab Lab L30 is steeped in more than a decade of experience in the manufacture of ceramic objects, and incorporates Lithoz’s high quality standards into a more accessible and economical model. Those wishing to take a closer look at the new ceramic 3D printing platform can schedule a live demonstration with Lithoz. After a fully virtual launch, the AM ceramic machine is also expected to feature in a number of upcoming international ceramic industry events.
This article was published in collaboration with Lithoz.