The processing of advanced functional ceramic powders and suspensions into useful engineering components has been investigated via a series of research projects each focusing on a different stage of the manufacturing route viz., (i) the ability to control the agglomerates present in the ceramic powder resulting in the production of a free-flowing and crushable powders, (ii) the formation of low viscosity but high solids content nanoceramic suspensions suitable for 2D and 3D additive layer manufacturing (3D printing) and (iii) the use of novel field assisted sintering techniques (FAST). This holistic approach helped to transfer the developments achieved in each stage of the manufacturing process to the next and resulted in the ability to form fully dense advanced ceramic components whilst restricting the grain growth to a minimum.
The methodology has been employed to develop various advanced functional ceramic components such as 3D printed BaTiO3 based light-weight PTCR heaters for automotive and aerospace applications that surpasses existing commercial counterparts, ultra-low loss microwave dielectrics for beyond 5G communication devices, additively manufactured (AM) zirconia based biomedical components exhibiting vastly superior hydrothermal ageing resistance and mechanical performance suitable for use in biomedical implants (eg., hip/knee prosthesis, finger joints, dental and jaw repairs), petro-chemical valve parts as well as for ballistic armour applications. Significant sustainability advantages were noted with AM compared to conventional subtractive manufacturing methods in terms of reduction in material wastage and process efficiency. 3D printing of hydrothermally immune nanostructured dental implants was regarded as one of the six best modern technological developments in materials science by a recent BBC documentary (Materials of the Modern Age: The Secret Story of Stuff). These novel advancements are covered by a series of patents and papers and this talk will provide an overview of some of these developments.