Since its founding in 1898 by brick manufacturers who saw a need to apply scientific methods and insights to manufacturing, The American Ceramic Society has served as a unique meeting point for manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, researchers, professionals, and students to exchange ideas, solve common problems, and build business relationships. ACerS is a proud founding partner of Ceramics Expo, which comes to Cleveland, Ohio, April 28–30. Presented by Smarter Shows (Brighton, U.K.), the inaugural trade show includes a free-to-attend exhibition and two-track conference, providing a “one-stop” marketplace for all of the raw materials, equipment, machinery, and technology used within the ceramic manufacturing supply chain.
Over the next weeks leading up the expo and conference, we will preview a handful of the 150-plus manufacturers and suppliers who have signed on for the first Ceramics Expo.
Today, we turn the pre-show spotlight to Lithoz and talk to the company’s corporate communications officer Monika Homa.
|Lithoz, Booth 334|
Lithoz is a Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) spin-off and was founded to open the research results of many years in the field of Additive Manufacturing to a wider public. Lithoz focuses on the development and manufacturing of Additive Manufacturing Technologies (also known as Rapid Prototyping) and materials for advanced ceramics. Their LCM- technology (Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing) enables industrial and research companies alike to produce cost effective and quickly functional prototypes and small scale series. Highly complex parts with any geometry, which could not be produced until now, can be realized with their LCM-technology. Due to its superior quality and precision the produced parts are suitable for serial production.
Q: How did your company get its start?
A: We started to develop an Additive Manufacturing (AM) Technology for high-performance ceramics at the Vienna University of Technology in 2006. There were already some processes for AM on the market, but none of them could fulfill the requirements of the ceramic industry: to achieve the same material properties as conventional formed ceramics and to have a high precision. We learned pretty soon, that we have to work in all fields: machine, material, software and post-processing. It took us five years to reach the goal: The AM-part with same material properties as conventional formed ceramics. Our first serial-printer was installed in September 2012 and from that time business took off. Until now have shipped our technology or parts made by it to all continents.
Q: How have technology and innovation changed the nature of your business?
A: Our background and foreground is technology and innovation. We have developed a unique process and are still working to improve it: bigger building envelopes, new materials and higher efficient processes. I think that our technology will change the nature of ceramic’s [sic] business. There are so many new opportunities coming with AM. Development cycles will be much shorter and more efficient, because you can produce one part with very little effort and within a very short period of time. AM will also be an enabler to new products, because you can produce small quantities very cost efficient and with the same material properties as in conventional forming technologies. But in my opinion the biggest opportunity is the new design freedom: now it is possible to produce parts which can not be produced with conventional forming technologies. Undercuts, cavities, and cellular structures are now possible to produce. Parts with unseen features can tackle unsolved problems and create new potential.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing industry today?
A: The biggest challenge is to understand this new way of production and to explore the new opportunities which unleashed by AM. A lot of work needs to be done to turn AM from a new technology to an industrial revolution. AM opens up completely new possibilities for the designing of the part. Conventionally the geometry of building parts is restricted by the manufacturing technique. The structures have to be designed in a suitable way for production to enable demolding or milling. Thus the possible functionality is lost to a large extent while the application of additive manufacturing technologies enables the production of functionally superior products. Therfore it is very important for the industry to start working with AM to understand its potential and to design new products.
Q: Tell us one thing most people don’t know or understand about your business.
A: AM is very present in the media, but most stories are about Do-It-Yourself printers. People get the impression that it is very simple to go from a CAD-drawing to the physical object. It is very simple if you know the technology by heart. Therefore, our experienced team support our clients on their way to add AM Technology to their production portfolio. The part has to be designed according to design rules. The right material has to be selected.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at Ceramics Expo? Why is Ceramics Expo so important to industry?
A: I think CEX will be a very important meeting point of the ceramic industry. All relevant companies will be there and it will give you a good overview about the different technologies. We expect a lot of potential customers that are interested in this new technology and I am really looking forward to a lot of interesting discussions. Furthermore, I am happy that there will be also a conference where industry will present their newest developments!
|Want to be a part of the first Ceramics Expo?|
Make plans to attend now by registering for your free pass.
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