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Si3N4 Parts Fabricated by Robocasting: Proof of Concept †

Mónica S. Faria
Filipe J. Oliveira
Cristina M. Fernandes
Daniel Figueiredo
2 and
Susana Olhero
Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering, CICECO—Aveiro Institute of Materials, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Palbit, S.A., 3854-908 Branca, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Materiais 2022, Marinha Grande, Portugal, 10–13 April 2022.
Mater. Proc. 2022, 8(1), 67;
Published: 6 June 2022
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of MATERIAIS 2022)
Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques in the category ‘material extrusion’, such as robocasting, can produce ceramic pieces from high-solid concentrated pastes. It uses lower amounts of organic additives than fused filament fabrication (FFF) or stereolithography/digital light processing (SLA/DLP), avoiding long burnout steps and preventing high shrinkage, which may result in better structural quality (density, mechanical properties) of the final pieces. Robocasting is thus a promising technique to produce dense ceramic parts from Si3N4-based materials. Considering that more and more ceramic components based on this material are being used in the aerospace, biomedicine, cutting tools, and automobile industries, it is a great challenge to fabricate components without microstructural defects, with high reliability, and with the required geometric complexity at acceptable costs. A few works documented the use of robocasting to fabricate silicon nitride-based materials, emphasizing the challenge and motivation for the present study.
The objective of this work is the optimization of concentrated Si3N4 aqueous suspensions, in order to achieve a properly viscoelastic ceramic paste as a feedstock for robocasting AM technology. For such a purpose, aqueous-based Si3N4 compositions containing yttria (Y2O3) and alumina (Al2O3) as sintering additives, in a total amount of solids from 40 vol.% to 45 vol.% were developed. Small amounts of Dolapix A88 as dispersant, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), and polyethyleneimine (PEI) were used as organic additives. The suspension rheological behavior was investigated to optimize the paste viscoelasticity to be extrudable, while keeping the shape. Circular samples (diameter 20 mm and height 5 mm) were made for preliminary characterization tests.
The shrinkage and relative density of the additive manufactured parts were measured after sintering at 1750 °C, under a N2 atmosphere in a powder bed of similar composition. The mechanical characterization was performed by micro-hardness and flexural strength.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: S.O., F.J.O., C.M.F. and D.F.; methodology: S.O., F.J.O. and M.S.F.; software: S.O. and M.S.F.; validation: S.O., F.J.O., C.M.F. and D.F.; formal analysis: S.O., F.J.O., C.M.F. and D.F.; investigation: S.O., F.J.O. and M.S.F.; resources: S.O., F.J.O. and M.S.F.; data curation: S.O. and M.S.F.; writing—original draft preparation: S.O. and M.S.F.; writing—review and editing: S.O., F.J.O., C.M.F. and M.S.F.; visualization: S.O., F.J.O. and C.M.F.; supervision: S.O.; project administration: S.O. and C.M.F.; funding acquisition: S.O., C.M.F. and D.F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This work was developed within the scope of the 3DCompCer project, POCI-01-0247-FEDER-047060 and of project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020, UIDP/50011/2020, and LA/P/0006/2020, financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC (PIDDAC).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding authors.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Faria, M.S.; Oliveira, F.J.; Fernandes, C.M.; Figueiredo, D.; Olhero, S. Si3N4 Parts Fabricated by Robocasting: Proof of Concept. Mater. Proc. 2022, 8, 67.

AMA Style

Faria MS, Oliveira FJ, Fernandes CM, Figueiredo D, Olhero S. Si3N4 Parts Fabricated by Robocasting: Proof of Concept. Materials Proceedings. 2022; 8(1):67.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Faria, Mónica S., Filipe J. Oliveira, Cristina M. Fernandes, Daniel Figueiredo, and Susana Olhero. 2022. "Si3N4 Parts Fabricated by Robocasting: Proof of Concept" Materials Proceedings 8, no. 1: 67.

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