Blog Items - Interview with Hanan Gothait

Can you tell us about your first approach to additive manufacturing technologies?

  • XJet has an extremely experienced team, many of whom have a wealth of experience in the 3D printing market, such as XJet’s CEO Hanan Gothait. Gothait was a founder of Objet Geometries, the company that reinvented the polymer 3D printing field with its proprietary PolyJet technology. He left Objet in 2004 to pursue other projects and later, in 2012, Objet merged with its largest competitor, Stratasys.
  • Hanan founded XJet in 2005, committing to a decade of research and developing another revolutionary new 3D printing technology. Holding over 80 registered and pending patents, and through Gothait’s guidance, XJet is set to make big changes in its field.
  • XJet launched a revolutionary new additive manufacturing process, NanoParticle Jetting, in 2016. The technology was developed for metal and ceramic AM and the first platforms using it were launched a year later, these were the Carmel 1400 and the Carmel 700 AM systems.

How did the idea to approach XJet to the ceramic 3D printing came up?

  • AM is a well-established technology across many industries, particularly in the production of polymer and metal parts. However, the potential of AM in technical ceramics is almost entirely untapped.
  • Experts predict that the global market for 3D printing of technical ceramics will rise from $174 million in 2017 to $544 million in 2022[i], and could be worth $3.1 billion[ii] by 2027.
  • The readiness of XJet technology, the size of the potential market, the variety of potential applications and the advantages for users – all point to an imminent transformation in the industry. Essentially, approaching the ceramics market on top of the metal market, was perfect for XJet.

Can you detail the ceramic 3d printing technology that you’re developing and for what sectors it is?

  • XJet’s AM platforms are based on its proprietary NanoParticle Jetting™ (NPJ) technology. NPJ technology enables the production of metal or ceramic parts with the same ease and versatility of inkjet printing without compromising throughput or quality.
  • The key to NPJ starts with its unique liquid dispersion methodology. Liquid suspensions containing solid nanoparticles of selected build and support materials are jetted onto the build tray to additively manufacture detailed parts. The liquid suspensions are delivered and installed in hassle-free sealed cartridges.
  • The nanoparticles within the suspension are stochastic (of different shapes and sizes). Following dispersion, the smaller particles fill the spaces between the larger particles, resulting in tight packing of the particles. This ‘perfect packing’ results not only in physical property advantages like high density, but also in geometric advantages such as the capability to form thin walls, sharp edges, smooth surfaces and other details as superfine as 0.1mm.
  • The accuracy of inkjet printheads plus the use of ultrafine layers, which create super sharp Z resolution, are important enablers of near-net-shape parts with XJet AM systems. This is crucial for ceramic AM to achieve excellent shape and dimensional tolerance meaning less machining is required in the green stages, further reducing costs and timescales. In ceramics, which is a material very hard to machine, the ability to create details and complex geometries by AM, is more critical than with other materials and opens options for parts and applications that were never before possible.
  • XJet’s ceramic AM technology will benefit all the same sectors that 3D Printing is already established in for polymer and metal AM, that includes automotive, aerospace, healthcare, dental, electronics and machinery, the list is endless.

How important do you think is ceramic 3D printing for different industries?

  • As the metal and polymer 3D printing markets have already shown, the application opportunities and time and cost savings made possible by short-run digital manufacturing are endless. Ceramic 3D printing is expected to revolutionise many industries in the same way.
  • The healthcare, energy and automotive industries that adopted plastic and metal additive manufacturing are already starting exciting journeys into technical ceramics. The technology is expected to gain full acceptance as a valid, needed and even preferred manufacturing method.
  • Ceramics are a set of materials that are very hard to machine. The ability AM brings to create details and complex geometries opens options for parts and applications that were never possible and therefore, it might have even greater impact on some industries than AM had with other materials. It is not replacement of parts with reduced weight or more efficient manufacturing processes, it is opening the door for completely new parts and new developments.

Where do you see ceramic 3D printing in 10 years?

  • Ceramic AM is still in its infancy today but it’s growing fast and we’re seeing more and more applications moving from metals to ceramics. The major driving force behind this is the ever-growing need for higher temperature resistance, strength, toughness of parts and components, bringing metals to the edge of their capabilities, where technical ceramics function extremely well.
  • In the next years we shall see more and more technologies and vendors joining this market as well as users expanding the range of applications. It is true that today, many are waiting on the side-lines carefully checking marketplace trends, but soon many of them will take the plunge and join the arena, contributing to the exploration of this potential market.
  • The Ceramic AM market volume today is estimated at ~170M USD and is expected to grow to 3.1B USD in 2027. Yet there are some significant challenges to meet, which are required for achieving this growth, for example, education programs for ceramics engineers as well as ceramic AM professionals, and more. An essential step in this progress is the adoption of this technology by leading players in the ceramics market including manufacturers, service providers and end users.  Once this process starts it will grow like a snow ball and make it a legitimate and popular technology. In many ways the growth of ceramic AM will follow the path we witnessed with plastic AM, and to a certain extent, with metal AM.

 

[i] 3D Printed Technical Ceramics: Technologies and Global Markets Report, Margareth Gagliardi, BBC Research, 2017

[ii] Market Report: the $3.1bn Market for Ceramics Additive Manufacturing, Davide Sher, Smartech Markets Publishing, 2018

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