AM Ceramics 2021  Review

After a year and a half of purely virtual events, the AM Ceramics 2021 team were very eager to once again finally meet experts from the ceramic industry face-to-face in Munich. Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the event - held in cooperation with the ceramitec conference - was able to go ahead, with the well-prepared Messe München team hosting an engaging and informative mixed format of online and in-person lectures and discussions.

With over 300 people attending the event, it was clear that in-person events and face-to-face contact are simply irreplaceable and the AM Ceramics team was truly motivated to making this year’s event the best and most informational yet. As one of three tracks at the ceramitec conference, one main focus of AM Ceramics 2021 was the medical and dental applications of additive manufacturing and ceramics. In view of the discussions, whether or not events and congresses with physical presence and networking opportunities will be driven out by virtual platforms, the aim of the team was nothing less than both, to reaffirm the global reputation of AM Ceramics as the place where the future of ceramics happens and to prove that no other format can replace a trade show.

With highlight talks often sharing content not yet released, the range of gripping insights covered everything from the newest lithium disilicate achievements in the dental field, research on specific industrial applications, test results from comparing complex structures, the evolution of application stability or the latest findings in process improvements to business related topics such as IP issues and the sharing of an in-depth market overview of technical ceramics. The information available was fresh and sure to be of great interest to visitors from every industry. The depth of knowledge available thanks to the wide range of speakers meant that every lecture was, without exception, packed full of useful and inspiring news.

Day One
Day one kicked off with a short introduction by Karin Scharrer (Ceramic Applications) and Robert Schönberger (Messe München). Dr. Johannes Homa (Lithoz co-founder and CEO) then welcomed guests to AM Ceramics and - with 2021’s event coinciding with the ten year anniversary of Lithoz’s founding - was very excited to share for the first time the company’s new ’10 Years of Lithoz’ celebratory video! After this welcome from the event leaders, discussions began following the idea of ‘Making Innovation Happen’.

Market Insights and Innovation Strategies
The first set of talks, led by moderator Dr. Andraž Kocjan (Jožef Stefan Institute), was centred around the theme of ‘Market insights and innovation strategies’.  Davide Sher (3Dpbm) gave the first talk, which was all about the ‘Market potential for technical ceramic additive manufacturing part production’. 3Dbpm’s position as a leading media and market research firm entirely focused on AM meant that Mr. Sher gave an particularly well-informed overview of the top firms investing in ceramic AM and those posed to lead the market over the next few years.

Following on from this, Judy Ceulemans (European Patent Office) gave a presentation about ‘Patents in AM and Why They Matter’. With AM developing at an ever-growing speed, an increasing number of patents concerning AM are being filed worldwide which have already proven to be an essential factor for success and high growth, no matter the company size. This presentation gave valuable insights into the geographical origins and specific sectors and applications regarding these applications. Professor Roland Ortt (TU Delft) then closed this section with his ‘Don’t sit and wait but innovate’ presentation, emphasising the importance of using this technology now to get ahead and make the most of its potential.

Industrial Applications and Production
After a short break, the day continued with a group of lectures all about industrial applications and production. Barry Robinson (MSI Transducers Corporation) presented the ‘Additive Manufacturing of Novel Piezocomposite Structures’, which gave a detailed insight into using Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) technology to rapidly produce piezoelectric ceramic parts with customized geometries and high-feature resolutions. This was followed by a talk by Mark Mirigian (Boston Scientific Ireland) about AM and ‘Material Considerations for Medical Devices’, examining how the medical device industry has been relatively slow in adopting AM technology and looking at finding applications with the right market pull to commercialise and broaden the use of AM for medical devices.

Clara Minas Payamyar (Schunk Ingenieurkeramik) then spoke about ‘Powder Bed 3D Printing for the Production of Reaction-Bonded Silicon Carbide’, giving insights into material and process development when it comes to binder jetting and how  AM offers a new dimension of design potential. Finally, Dr. Wolfgang Kollenberg’s (WZR ceramic solution) talk about the ‘3D Printing of Ceramics: Binder Jetting vs. Material Extrusion’ brought the first half of this section to an end, discussing the possibilities and limitations of binder jetting and material extrusion in the context of industrial applications.

The second half of these talks then started after a coffee break with Lukas Badum’s (Technion Israel Institute of Technology) presentation, titled ‘Manufacturing and Testing of a 500,000 rpm Rotor for Micro Turbine Applications’. This examined the potential advantages of ceramic AM in terms of producing highly complex and functional rotors with high heat resistance, an application which is challenging for traditional manufacturing methods. Dave Cillessen (Sandia National Laboratories) gave their year review of the Lithoz CeraFab 8500 installed in their laboratories in the USA, sharing the latest successes in SNL and Lithoz America’s cooperation in developing custom slurries, new processes in AM and how having access to ceramic AM has changed their workflow. To close the talks for day one, Samad Firdosy (NASA) gave a talk about ‘Additive Manufacturing at JPL: Research and Applications’, sharing NASA’s work into developing metal, ceramic and polymer AM processes to enable applications in support of robotic space exploration missions. With AM enabling complex geometries made using functional materials, certain challenging space applications would finally be feasible.

Adding to the vivid discussions and general excited atmosphere after day one was the ten year anniversary of AM Ceramics organiser Lithoz. The “Happy Birthday Hour” for 10 years of Lithoz at the end of the first day gave participants the perfect opportunity to chat, network and get to know other experts in the field of ceramics and 3D printing.

Day Two - Dental Applications and Implants
Day two’s discussions had three main themes – dental applications and implants in AM, multi-material 3D printing and new applications in the 3D printing world. Dr. Francesco Moscato (Medical University of Vienna) kicked the day off with his presentation about ‘Multi-material Ceramic Additive