Currently JM produces bespoke ceramic products with flexible geometries and feature sizes down to just 400 µm. This 3D printing process offers a cost effective solution for producing small complex ceramics on a large scale.
The new R&D laboratory will enable us to develop a greater understanding of 3D printing; characterising powders and inks to allow faster development and more effective solutions for customers.
Sam O'Callaghan, Research Group Leader said, 'This new laboratory is a great step forward for Johnson Matthey. The cutting-edge technology will help us develop our 3D printing capabilities and offer customers truly bespoke solutions.'
In 3D printing, particle size distribution is an important factor, but shape can also play a significant role. Our new QiCPic image analysis sensor allows both to be measured simultaneously in a dry atmosphere similar to the 'in use' environment.
[IMAGE] QiCPic image analysis sensor
There are many factors that contribute to a powder's performance in printing that can broadly be described as flow characteristics. The Freeman FT4 is an advanced piece of equipment that allows 7 different test types, resulting in 21 different powder properties. These are being combined with Johnson Matthey knowhow to build a powder operating window.
[IMAGE] Freeman FT4 Powder Rheometer
The new lab will also improve ink characterisation techniques using a PixDro ink jet printer, fitted with same printhead system installed across all of the R&D prototype and pilot plant printers. This allows diversity, as well as cost saving experiments, assessing alternative suppliers and reagents.
[IMAGE] PixDro inkjet printer
The new lab also features a mixer torque rheometer that allows powder-ink interactions to be measured. This enables us to define the ideal printer settings prior to printing as well as giving us a background understanding of why certain powders perform differently to others.
The overall aim of this new facility is to build upon our understanding of 3D printing, improve our processes and help create effective applications for our products.