IDTechEx examines the ceramic 3D printing materials on the market

November 04, 2021

Recently, ceramic 3D printer and material manufacturer Tethon 3D announced a partnership with composite 3D printing start-up Fortify to develop more technical ceramic materials for 3D printing. By increasing the portfolio of advanced ceramics available for 3D printing, the two companies aim to advance the adoption of ceramic 3D printing in technical applications.

Expanding our platform to the technical ceramics market is a natural evolution for Fortify," Joshua Martin, CEO and Co-Founder of Fortify said. "Pushing the envelope with these materials requires processing of highly-loaded, abrasive, and viscous materials. These are the same capabilities that drive our success across various technical photopolymers.”

Increasing the number of ceramics available for 3D printing will certainly open the door for ceramic additive manufacturing to penetrate into high-performance applications in demanding sectors like aerospace, medicine, and energy. That begs the question: what ceramic materials are currently being 3D-printed, and what forms do they take?

Types of Ceramics Being 3D-Printed

One of the first ceramic materials to be 3D printed was clay. Numerous manufacturers of clay extrusion printers, like Delta, WASP, and CERAMBOT, have entered the ceramic 3D printing market over the years, primarily targeting the art, architecture, and design sectors. One prominent 3D Printing design studio, San Francisco-based Emerging Objects, famously prints clay and porcelain into towering innovative sculptures and buildings. That said, ceramic additive manufacturing has largely moved away from whitewares, like clay and porcelain, towards technical ceramics. Technical ceramics offer the opportunity to utilize 3D printing for producing high-performing parts for high revenue-generating industries, like aerospace & defense, the chemical industry, and dentistry.


Technical ceramic types available in the ceramic additive manufacturing market. Source: IDTechEx

Oxide Ceramics: The main type of ceramic being printed are oxide ceramics, like alumina and zirconia. These binary oxides are typically cheaper and easier to process than many non-oxide ceramics, helping to increase their popularity in 3D printing. Outside of 3D printing, alumina is commonly used in medical implants and devices, while zirconia is increasing its penetration into the dental industry as it’s used for dental implants and veneers. Both dentistry and medicine are target sectors for the 3D printing industry as a whole, as they present opportunities for mass customization that 3D printing is built to support. Given these facts, it’s thus unsurprising that alumina and zirconia are some of the most popular ceramic 3D printing materials currently available. Nearly every major ceramic 3D printer manufacturer, like Lithoz, Admatec, and 3D Ceram, develop and sell zirconia and alumina for ceramic 3D printing.

Non-oxide Ceramics: Non-oxide ceramics, such as silicon carbide and aluminum nitride, are less common within the market than oxide ceramics. This can be attributed to two main factors: the increased cost and increased difficulty in printing non-oxide ceramics. That said, non-oxide ceramics are becoming more available commercially within the ceramic additive manufacturing market, as non-oxide ceramics are particularly useful in extreme environments given their high heat and corrosion resistance. Recently, more companies have debuted their own non-oxide ceramics for 3D printing. This includes not only ceramic 3D printing manufacturers like Lithoz, Admatec, and 3D Ceram but also ceramic materials suppliers like SGL Carbon and Schunk Carbon Technology. Ceramic materials suppliers tend not to produce 3D-printable ceramics for direct purchase; instead, they offer these materials as part of in-house part production services.

Bioceramics: Bioceramics broadly refer to ceramics used within the body that stimulate cell activity. Bioceramics have been the subject of extensive academic research within the past decade because they offer the opportunity to create implantable devices that are not only non-toxic but also actively help the body repair itself. The ability to 3D print bioceramic implants interests many in the medical device and academic research fields because 3D printing facilitates the creation of implants customized to fit individual patients’ bodies. The two most bioceramics explored within ceramic 3D printing are hydroxyapatite (HA) and tri-calcium phosphate (TCP); these bioceramics are popular not only for their material properties but their prevalence within medicine, as numerous HA and TCP implants and devices (not-3D printed) have been previously approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Feedstock Forms of Ceramic 3D Printing Materials

Having identified the most common ceramic materials found in the 3D printing market, in what feedstock forms might one find these ceramics? Overall, there are six main feedstock types for ceramics, four of which involve polymers as intermediary binders and two of which do not:

  • Photopolymer resins: where ceramic powder is incorporated into resins to make a slurry for printing
  • Thermoplastic filaments: where ceramic powder is mixed with thermoplastic to make a filament for extrusion
  • Thermoplastic pellets: where ceramic powder is mixed with thermoplastics to make pellets for extrusion
  • Ceramic paste: where viscous ceramic paste, like clay or porcelain, is made for printing
  • Ceramic powder: where micron-sized ceramic powder particles are used for powder-bed based printing
  • Nanoparticle suspensions: where nanoparticles of ceramics are suspended in water for nanoparticle jetting, a type of material jetting

Moving forward: ceramic 3D printing materials

Overall, the materials available for ceramic additive manufacturing are diverse but ripe for further innovation and offerings. Making higher-performing ceramics and ceramic-matrix composites available to 3D printing will broaden ceramic additive manufacturing’s ability to become the go-to manufacturing technique for low-volume part production. IDTechEx predicts that the next 10 years will see continued innovation from a materials standpoint, as more materials suppliers and ceramic 3D printing startups enter the market with their own offerings.

Share or Email this content
Graphic Display World

Email us your news, PR, case studies to [email protected]

Latest from Graphic Display World

Roland DG (UK) Ltd - VersaUV Double Your Profits
FESPA Global Expo 2023 Opens In... May 23, 2023 10:00 am 58
The Print Show 2023 Opens In... September 19, 2023 10:00 am 177
PRINTING United Expo 2023 Opens In... October 18, 2023 10:00 am 206
Sign & Digital UK 2023 Opens In... March 21, 2023 10:00 am
Your 300 x 300 Banner Here
drupa 2024 Opens In... May 28, 2024 10:00 am 429

The UK's coolest wide format printing trade press website specialising in providing punchy and concise up-to-the-minute news, views and industry opinions ...

Latest News

FESPA Global Print Expo 2023 set to welcome strong line-up of 490 international exhibitors

FESPA Global Print Expo 2…

Mar 20, 2023 Rate: 0.00

Roland DG launches new high-value brand of inkjet printers

Roland DG launches new hi…

Mar 20, 2023 Rate: 0.00

ICScolor expands supported displays for Remote Director

ICScolor expands supporte…

Mar 20, 2023 Rate: 0.00

Fujifilm releases Uvijet HZ thermoforming ink for its Acuity Prime series of flatbed presses

Fujifilm releases Uvijet …

Mar 17, 2023 Rate: 0.00

Epson now shipping high-speed SureColor P-Series and T-Series wide-format production printing solutions

Epson now shipping high-s…

Mar 15, 2023 Rate: 0.00

Featured News

RadWraps, Phototex and ColourShield provide dementia-friendly graphics installations

RadWraps, Phototex and Co…

Aug 16, 2022 Rate: 0.00

SkinzWraps races ahead with Drytac for Gas Monkey Garage wall graphics project

SkinzWraps races ahead wi…

Aug 04, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Agfa-Gevaert to acquire Inca Digital Printers, taking a significant step in its digital printing business

Agfa-Gevaert to acquire I…

Apr 20, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Phototex is sustainable solution for wall decorations

Phototex is sustainable s…

Apr 19, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Type One Style gains versatility and economy with the VersaUV LEC2-330 printer

Type One Style gains vers…

Feb 23, 2022 Rate: 0.00


Reaching new printing heights with the Roland IU-1000F UV-LED flatbed printer

Reaching new printing hei…

Feb 27, 2023 Rate: 0.00

Makroser Tekstil’s carpet production soars with a Mimaki TS300P-1800 sublimation transfer printer

Makroser Tekstil’s carpet…

Dec 20, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Phototex Self Adhesive Fabric on Display at the Imperial War Museum

Phototex Self Adhesive Fa…

Dec 19, 2022 Rate: 0.00

MacroArt's large scale graphics installation helps turn Soho's streets into a new reusable gallery

MacroArt's large scale gr…

Dec 07, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Mimaki 3D printed models star in ITV trailer for Emmerdale soap opera

Mimaki 3D printed models …

Dec 06, 2022 Rate: 0.00

Your 1100 x 100 Banner Here