MSE Research Project Database

3D printing multi-scale porous ceramics

Project Leader: George Franks
Staff: Mitchell Sesso
Primary Contact: George Franks (
Keywords: ceramic processing
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure
Research Centre: Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC)

Porous ceramic materials possess properties that are in high demand for many applications because of their high strength-to-weight ratio, chemical inertness and high temperature stability. The aim of this project is to combine such materials with current state of the art 3D printing technologies to produce new structures with user-designed properties. These methods will result in multi-scaled porous ceramics to be used in high temperature environments as light weight thermal insulators, which can increase efficiencies of combustion engines by allowing components to operate at much higher temperatures. The use of additive manufacturing techniques can reduce the development time and cost. Although the 3D printing additive manufacturing (AM) process is becoming widespread in polymers and metals, there remain several gaps within the knowledge that require fundamental research to progress this emerging field for ceramic materials, particularly porous ceramics. Only recently has initial work been conducted in this field.1,2 This proposal will investigate crucial gaps in current knowledge regarding control of foamed ceramic suspension and emulsion paste properties, and how they can be tailored to the 3D printing process while maintaining mechanical integrity. This project will develop process-structure-property relationships between the foamed ceramic suspensions, the printing parameters and the material performance. Such knowledge will facilitate the additive manufacturing of ceramics parts with multiple levels of porosity to be printed in a wide variety of shapes including leading edges of hypersonic vehicles and investment casting cores. See Figure 1 below: Figure 1. a) Example of 3D printed complex shape with dense ceramic strands produced in our lab at the Univ. of Melbourne, b) close up of the sintered dense ceramic scaffold structure and c) schematic representation of multi-scale porosity within individual strands adapted from Minas et al 2016.1

1) C. Minas, D. Carnelli, E. Tervoort A. R. Studart, Advanced Materials, 28, 9993-9999 (2016).

2) J.T. Muth, P. G. Dixon, L. Woish, L. J,Gibson J. A. Lewis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, PNAS, 114 [8] 1832-1837 (2017).

Students with degrees in materials, chemical engineering or mechanical engineering are preferred.

For technical information on the project, contact the academic supervisor, Prof. George V. Franks,

Further information:

Figure 1. (a) Example of 3D printed complex shaped object with dense ceramic strands produced in our lab at the Universi