Fraunhofer-Center HTL offers the entire production chain to develop technical ceramics. The fabrication of oxide, non-oxide and silicate ceramics can be handled from start to finish, beginning with raw material conditioning via forming and heat treatment up to the final processing of the material. Special to Fraunhofer-Center HTL is the utilization of Additive Manufacturing techniques. Additive shaping is applied through both slurry based and powder bed procedures. Thus, it is also possible to create ceramic components with complex geometry.
The material development starts with the selection and design of suitable components. For the qualification, extensive material- and thermodynamic databases are available (see Material Design). Material properties of multiphase ceramics or composites can be predicted with high precision, using special developed in-house software. The results are then used to improve the microstructure of materials. Composition and alignment of the materials are done by means of the finite element method (see Component Design).
For ceramic-oriented designs, the reduction of thermomechanical stress is targeted. Besides the Additive Manufacturing (3D-printing), Fraunhofer-Center HTL takes advantage of standardized methods as cold isostatic pressing, extrusion, slip casting or wet pressing. The quality of green bodies is analyzed with special in-house procedures. The thermal processing of the green body is carried out in various electric or gas-fired furnaces. During this treatment, it is possible to establish inert, oxide or reducing atmospheres as well as vacuum and overpressure. A target-orientated optimization of the parameters during heat treatment is accomplished through special thermo-optical methods (see Thermal Processes). Especially the optimization of additive manufactured components makes the need for post-processing less likely. However, if post-processing of ceramics is necessary, a computer controlled 5-axis machining center is provided. Ceramic components with complex geometries can be constructed of simple parts with high temperature joining techniques. Material and component characteristics are evaluated with non-destructive methods, material testing and microstructure analysis (see Characterization).