Low-Cost 3D Printing for Metals & Ceramics

TIWARI Scientific Instruments, a startup supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) in Germany, has pioneered a groundbreaking technique for low-cost 3D printing of metals and ceramics. Traditional methods of producing precision parts from such high-performance materials are often time-consuming and expensive. However, TIWARI has revolutionized the process by utilizing standard 3D printing techniques.

The company's innovative "Fused Filament Fabrication" (FFF) print process incorporates thermoplastic filaments embedded with particles of the metal or ceramic intended for the part. Following printing, the component, known as a 'green body,' undergoes thermal treatment to eliminate the plastic, leaving behind a pure metal or ceramic item.

ESA's non-metallic materials and processes engineer, Ugo Lafont, lauds the technique, stating, "The result is high-quality parts with very good physical properties. This cost-effective, straightforward approach expands part manufacturing capabilities for space applications, offering a broader range of materials."

Test parts produced using the FFF process underwent extensive non-destructive and destructive testing at ESA's ESTEC technical center in the Netherlands. Surprisingly, the parts exhibited enhanced mechanical performance compared to conventionally made equivalents. For example, stainless steel components could be elongated to an unprecedented 100% without fracturing.

TIWARI specializes in instruments for thermal characterization of materials and 3D printing of high-performance metals and ceramics. Company founder Siddharth Tiwari emphasizes their dedication to understanding the process thoroughly, focusing on achieving optimal thermal and mechanical properties.

The collaboration between ESA and TIWARI, facilitated by ESA's Technology Transfer and Patent Office, aims to offer an affordable solution to industries often deterred by the high costs associated with additive manufacturing. Tiwari affirms, "Our company provides one of the best price-to-performance ratios in the market, and we've developed an online estimation tool for customers to assess the cost of customized parts."

This strategic partnership underscores TIWARI's commitment to commercializing innovative technology, leveraging ESA resources to advance manufacturing capabilities for space and terrestrial applications alike.

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