Topology optimization for ceramic 3D printing

The potential of additive manufacturing – the geometric freedom of design – has so far only been used under design aspects. The artistic freedom opened up by additive manufacturing also offers new possibilities for lightweight construction in industrial applications. The targeted reduction of mass, without sacrificing application behaviour, has not yet been implemented for ceramics in industry.

WZR ceramic solutions GmbH and SiCo Solutions jointly develop and test simulation methods for the optimization of the topology of ceramic components in order to make consistent use of the potential of 3D printing for ceramic components. A decisive difference from the state of the art is that the stresses occurring during the sintering process as well as the ceramic shrinkage are taken into account. In order to avoid cracks, for example, large mass differences within a component must be avoided with the right process and the right optimization.

Optimization of ceramic components – light, stable, heat-resistant

There are many guidelines for the design of ceramic components, but there is a lack of an analytical approach and comparison criteria. The method of topology optimization is a promising new approach.

An application-specific topology optimization of ceramic components is inspired by and based on the conventional topology optimization for steel components. Based on this, the direction-dependent material properties of printed ceramics play a central role. The goal of the optimization in this step is the reduction of weight and installation space.

Examples are firing cassettes and other firing auxiliaries, which often bring significantly more mass into the kiln than the actual ceramic to be fired. Energy costs and cycle times are reduced by reducing the mass while maintaining the load capacity.

In a second step, the application-optimized component is topologically optimized once again, now with a production-specific reference. Particular attention is paid to the processes during sintering, where effects such as shrinkage or distortion of the base body are to be investigated. Since there is no standard modeling for this process yet, modeling and a numerical calculation method are developed. The goal of topology optimization is to reduce stresses in the component and maintain the shape after sintering, while preserving feedback to the application. Accordingly, the result of topology optimization is not the finished component, but rather the finished component.

Contact: Michael Lüke