Rheological Characterization of Aqueous 3Y-TZP Inks Optimized for Direct Thermal Ink-Jet Printing of Ceramic Components


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Aqueous 3Y-TZP inks with solid contents of 22 and 27 vol% were used for fabricating three-dimensional ceramic components by the direct ink-jet printing process (DIP). The DIP fabrication was realized using a thermal ink-jet (TIJ) printing system. Despite the different physical properties of the inks, both inks were successfully ejected and deposited. To define the optimum window of the ink properties required for a stable printing operation, both ceramic inks as well as a typical TIJ ink were characterized in terms of particle size distribution, zeta potential, viscosity, surface tension, and the inverse Ohnesorge number (Oh−1). Moreover, single drops of all inks were deposited and analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to examine the form and integrity of the ejected drops. Demonstration objects (a base with curved channels and a sample molar tooth) were DIP fabricated using both of the ceramic inks. These objects show the potentials of the DIP process for ceramics manufacturing particularly by using TIJ printing systems.