The SLRS process is similar to standard Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) metal printing. However, instead of using an inert gas to allow for increased bonding between particles and to expunge any oxygen, the chamber is filled with a reactive gas which the sintering laser breaks down to cause a reaction and form a non-oxide ceramic.
The powder used is a mix of the metal and metal-oxide precursor. The metal experiences a positive volume change, while the oxide undergoes a negative volume change. By optimizing the ratio of the metal to the metal-oxide powder, “net-shape” geometry can be produced. The SLRS process is materials agnostic, meaning it can be used to create any carbide or nitride ceramic.
This manufacturing method does not require post processing, unlike other non-oxide ceramic AM solutions. With other technologies, a plastic binder may be used and the printed object will need to undergo a debinding and sintering process, which shrinks the part anisotropically. A traditionally printed part may also require supports that need to be cut or machined away. SLRS technology will greatly reduce the turnaround time for production of non-oxide ceramic parts and will use less energy compared to other methods.