Renaissance Services, Inc. has established a division that specializes in 3D printing. The new group, known as the PERFECT-3D Division, performs a variety of 3D printing, using a range of materials, but specializes in printing of ceramic components, primarily for the investment casting industry.
Renaissance co-founder Robert Morris describes the need for the PERFECT-3D Division: “We have been printing ceramics for nearly five years and it was time to raise the status of this activity within our company and give it the emphasis it deserves. Earlier this year we moved the operation from Cleveland to Fairborn, where we have established a fully integrated operation that can go from raw material to finished component.”
PERFECT-3D produces ceramic process aids in the form of cores, molds, and filters for use by foundries that produce investment castings for application across the aerospace and defense sector, including aircraft, engines, and support equipment. One area of particular interest is castings for “legacy” military systems; specifically those that were designed between the 1950s and 1990s that no longer have readily available sources for the castings used to produce key components such as gearboxes and housings.
Morris notes that Renaissance and PERFECT-3D have received a number of contracts from various military agencies to pursue ways to reduce the cost and lead time for these products. “For many of these castings there is scant technical data and the tooling no longer exists. New tooling typically costs six-figures and takes months to produce. We pursue a concept of ‘CAD as tooling’ to produce a ceramic mold using our own patent pending process. We then work with the foundry to produce a casting just like the original, filling a critical cost and lead time gap. We recently used our capability, working with a production foundry, to go from CAD model to a finished legacy engine gearbox casting in 26 days. This is a marked contrast from the two year lead times that we regularly hear about from the military sustainment community.”
PERFECT-3D Director of Operations Rick Pressley has been in the 3D printing industry since its infancy, including serving as manager of the 3D printing operation for a major jet engine producer. Pressley is quick to point out the difference between printing standard resins and ceramics: “With standard resins, we produce what is essentially a finished part, with limited post-processing. Ceramics are a whole different animal—less forgiving, with extensive post-processing, including sintering of the ceramic to achieve the final part. It’s a challenge, but we have demonstrated the ability to produce molds that make castings from various materials, including nickel-based alloys and aluminum. And we can cut the lead time for a mold from months to days.”
PERFECT-3D has enlisted the expertise of chemistry industry leader BASF and foundries across the country. Each foundry brings an important capability to the effort, including the ability to work with a wide range of materials such as aluminum, magnesium, and nickel-based alloys.
PERFECT-3D produces the components on the equipment at its facility in Fairborn, which has been expanded since the move from Cleveland. “We use materials from BASF and Prodways ProMaker L5000 3D printing machines to generate the ceramic molds,” Morris notes. “We purchased ProMaker L5000 serial number one from Prodways three years ago and have had a very successful relationship. In looking at equipment options for printing ceramics, we found the Prodways equipment to be the best value, offering leading edge technical capability and durability.”
Morris cites that BASF is a key partner: “BASF is our exclusive source for the photopolymer resins that are combined with ceramic material to enable our 3D printing of ceramic components. BASF has supported us with R&D resources, materials, and expertise to continually find better solutions and grow our capability.”
Morris says that the PERFECT-3D Division represents a commitment by Renaissance to its current and prospective customers. “We want the industry to know that we are in this for the long haul and that the PERFECT-3D Division offers a one-stop-shop that is singularly focused on 3D printed cores, molds, and filters.”
For more information about PERFECT-3D contact: