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19-03-2021 | Ceramics | News | Article

Competence Center Taps 3D Printing for the Refractories Industry

Leyla Buchholz
1:30 min reading time

Additive manufacturing has become increasingly important in many industries in recent decades. At the competence center for 3D printing of ceramics in Hoehr-Grenzhausen, Germany, refractory molded parts are to be produced for the first time. For the preparation of the mixes, the university has placed an order with Eirich to supply a mixer.

No other molding process for plastic, ceramic or metal components offers as much potential for cost savings as 3D printing - faster production, lower tooling costs, fewer steps and less scrap. But while the construction industry is now producing entire houses as demonstration objects for additive manufacturing, the ceramics industry still has some catching up to do when it comes to larger components and objects.

This potential has been recognized by the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate. As a result, the establishment of a center of competence for 3D printing of ceramics in Hoehr-Grenzhausen was funded in summer 2019 with around 5.3 million Euros. The center is being set up by the Research Institute for Inorganic Materials -Glass/Ceramics (FGK), Koblenz University of Applied Sciences and the University of Koblenz-Landau. The project will initially serve to develop an infrastructure and build up know-how for the additive manufacturing of inorganic non-metallic materials. These cover the entire range of ceramic materials - from silicate ceramics, refractories, technical ceramics and transparent ceramics to multi-material printing.

Scalable mixer for refractory compositions

For the preparation of the refractory mixes, the decision fell in favor of a 75-liter mixer from Eirich, which is characterized in particular by the fact that a rotating mixing container transports the mix to the mixing tool. The transport of the mixing material is thus decoupled from the actual mixing process and high-speed tools located close to the floor or wall, which are therefore subject to high wear, are no longer required.  This means that the mixing tools can run faster without causing excessive friction and wear on the mixing pan.

For Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, the new competence center means a further strengthening of the WesterwaldCampus in Hoehr-Grenzhausen as an innovative research location. With the 3D printing competence center, the refractory industry is utilizing a technology that is economical and thus future-oriented.

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