Journal of the American Ceramic Society, Vol.102, No.5, 2257-2262, 2019
3D printing of dense structural ceramic microcomponents with low cost: Tailoring the sintering kinetics and the microstructure evolution
In this study, we have successfully developed a unique 3D printing approach based on mask-image-projection stereolithography (MIP-SL) to fabricate structural ceramics microcomponents with low cost and high efficiency. Ultra-dense submicron crystalline ceramics without fierce grain growth could be obtained via tailoring the sintering kinetics. The ZrO2 ceramic microcomponents reached the highest relative density (RD) of 99.7% with the average grain size of 0.52 mu m upon sintering at 1550 degrees C while the Al2O3 ceramic microcomponents reached its highest RD of 98.31% with the average grain size of 2.6 mu m upon sintering at 1600 degrees C. Oxide ceramics microcomponents of fully flexible design can be produced easily without visible defects via the method developed in this study, which demonstrates significant potential in the applications of microelectromechanical systems, micro-optical electronics systems and micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems. The method developed in this study has addressed the problem successfully by healing the interlayer interface defects in densification process via the sintering kinetic window and microstructure evolution. The current work provides a promising opportunity to fabricate structural ceramic microcomponents with complex shape, high precision, and high surface smoothness.