Ceramic vat photopolymerization is an additive manufacturing (AM) technology for the fabrication of near-net shape parts using technical ceramic materials.

These ceramic materials add value in high-performance applications such as high-tech machine components where their favorable material properties are required, such as low thermal expansion and high specific stiffness. Although AM offers several potential benefits over traditional manufacturing techniques, the widespread adoption of ceramic vat photopolymerization is hampered by a lack of quality. To work towards solving this lack of printed product quality, research is being conducted on process modelling, sensing, and control.

Lepus Next Gen printer 

Within the AMSYSTEMS Center a vat photopolymerization machine called the ‘Lepus Next Gen’ is available, which serves as an experimental platform. The goal of  the ceramics research work package is to leverage the prepared equipment by developing and implementing control strategies on the Lepus Next Gen for both the recoating and the illumination process steps. The current focus is on the printing step, since this is where the defects often originate from. In the recent Stimulus supported research projects on ceramics printing at AMSYSTEMS, the machine architecture has been revised to improve the recoater, the light engine drive unit and the machine control software.

Lepus Next Gen

Moreover, a high-fidelity layer height sensor was integrated into the machine to provide essential information about the height or thickness of the resin layer. All these efforts were targeted at preparing the machine for applying (feedback) control strategies.