Damage-tolerant 3D-printed ceramics via conformal coating

SM Sajadi and L Vasarhelyi and R Mousavi and AH Rahmati and Z Konya and A Kukovecz and T Arif and T Filleter and R Vajtai and P Boul and ZQ Pang and T Li and CS Tiwary and MM Rahman and PM Ajayan, SCIENCE ADVANCES, 7, eabc5028 (2021).

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc5028

Ceramic materials, despite their high strength and modulus, are limited in many structural applications due to inherent brittleness and low toughness. Nevertheless, ceramic-based structures, in nature, overcome this limitation using bottom-up complex hierarchical assembly of hard ceramic and soft polymer, where ceramics are packaged with tiny fraction of polymers in an internalized fashion. Here, we propose a far simpler approach of entirely externalizing the soft phase via conformal polymer coating over architected ceramic structures, leading to damage tolerance. Architected structures are printed using silica-filled preceramic polymer, pyrolyzed to stabilize the ceramic scaffolds, and then dip-coated conformally with a thin, flexible epoxy polymer. The polymer-coated architected structures show multifold improvement in compressive strength and toughness while resisting catastrophic failure through a considerable delay of the damage propagation. This surface modification approach allows a simple strategy to build complex ceramic parts that are far more damage-tolerant than their traditional counterparts.

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