A new freeze casting technique for ceramics
A new freeze casting technique for ceramics capable of manufacturing near room temperature with a sublimable vehicle has been developed in order to eliminate expensive processes under extremely cold temperatures in the conventional freeze casting. Fluid concentrated slurries of Al2O 3 powder in molten camphene (C10H16) were successfully prepared at 55°C with a small amount of a dispersant. These slurries were quickly solidified (frozen) at room temperature to yield a rigid solid green body, where the frozen camphene was easily removed by sublimation (freeze-drying) with negligible shrinkage. Sintering was successfully conducted without any special binder burnout process to yield dense sintered bodies (over 98% T.D).
An organic alloy with a eutectic composition in the naphthalene (C 10H8)-camphor (C10H16O) binary system with a eutectic temperature of 31°C was also found to be a successful vehicle for the new ceramic freeze casting. The fabrication processes are almost the same as those with camphene. It was found that vehicles with off-eutectic compositions resulted in large voids in the sintered body due to the ceramic particle rejection by pro-eutectic crystals during freezing. At the eutectic composition, fine lamellar microstructure in the solidified vehicle inhibits the particle rejection.
The proposed advantages of the new freeze casting technique with a sublimable vehicle include; (1) elimination of extremely cold temperatures used in conventional freeze casting; (2) elimination of troublesome binder burnout process; and (3) fast manufacturing cycle due to quick solidification.
Porous ceramic bodies with unique interconnected pore channels were fabricated by the new freeze casting with lower solid content. The unique channels surrounded by fully dense walls have nearly circular cross-sections unlike conventional aqueous freeze casting. The porosity and the channel diameters are controllable by the solid content in the slurry. The unique channels are replicas of entangled dendrites of frozen camphene, which sublimes during freeze-drying process. The unique porous structure with interconnected pore channels, which is completely new, is considered potentially useful in many applications such as filters and implantable bone scaffolds.