Following approval by the district government in Düsseldorf and the official launch, the technology has now moved out of the development phase and into production. “I am delighted that we can now really get our new engineering ceramics production process off the ground,” said Joachim Heym, CEO of Schunk Ingenieurkeramik in Willich, at the official unveiling of the 3D printer.
This was partially thanks to support from the authorities involved, added Heym in reference to the guests in attendance – District President Anne Lütkes, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Dr. Günther Horzetzky, CEO Jürgen Steinmetz from the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK), Mayor Josef Heyes, and representatives from parties in the town council. The Schunk Group has invested a total of three million euros towards the new 3D printing process and necessary machinery at the Willich site.
Complex geometries from loose powder
The process begins by mixing powdered silicon carbide with a binding agent. Using CAD structural data, a 3D printer then models the desired component layer by layer. Sizes of 1.5 x 0.7 x 0.7 meters are possible here. Following special pretreatment, burning and finishing, the product is ready. The process is much faster and the amount of material used is less in comparison to conventional technology.
The new process is of interest to customers in a wide range of industries, and offers entirely new opportunities in industrial precision metrology and production technology. “We have already received customer inquiries from all over the world, and conducted a great deal of sampling,” says Heym. “Because of that, I can say that we are very satisfied with the response to our development.”
Schunk Ingenieurkeramik’s innovation first caused a stir two years ago, with the company securing second place for its unprecedented process at the sixth research and innovation awards held by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for the central Lower Rhine region (IHK Mittlerer Niederrhein).