Enabling & Support

Manufacturing of a Ceramic Article from a Metal Preform Provided by 3D-Printing

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology
638 - Abstract:
In space, a trend towards hydrogen peroxide propellants is noticeable. An improved catalytic bed based on a solid catalytic ceramic substrate lattice is advantageous regarding this trend. As the production of catalytic ceramic lattices with additive manufacturing is difficult, a new production method was developed. Licence agreements are sought.


With the invented method, 3D ceramic lattices are produced, for instance, for use in catalytic applications. The ceramic article is manufactured by using a 3D-printed or 3D-weaved metal preform. The preform is placed in a gas-filled heating chamber exposed to a predetermined time-temperature profile. This leads to a controlled metal-gas reaction of the preform with a gas. At least, a part of the preform transforms into a ceramic.

Using this method for space, a catalytic ceramic lattice can be manufactured by 3D-printing the structure as a metallic form and then carrying out a special two-stage heat and oxidation treatment afterwards. The metal turns to an oxide in a controlled manner. This treatment is then followed by a chemical treatment to wash the catalyst on to the surface in nanoparticulate form.

3D lattice
3D lattice

Innovations and advantages:

  • High cost reduction in comparison to current methods.
  • Down to nano-size control over the spatial configuration of the material and the inner structure of a porous or lattice-type ceramic article.
  • Avoids loose powder as in state-of-the-art techniques.
  • Less ageing and degradation of thrusters performance, increased reliability.

Domain of application:

Apart from the original propose for which this invention has been designed (ionic thrusters), the catalytic ceramic lattices obtained might also provide benefits for different processes like:

  • Gas purification by dehydration or desulfurization
  • Crude hydro-processing
  • Vehicle or industry emission purification
  • Bad smell removal
  • Energy saving heat exchange applications (steel works and metallurgy industry)
  • Biomedical applications (artificial ceramic-based tissues that allow oxygen supply).

Many companies and end-users from the chemical, materials, manufacturing, automotive, biomedical and energy sectors, could be interested in this invention.

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