Ceramic specialist CeramTec has announced its annual results for FY 2020, reporting revenue of €553 million for the period.
Although down almost 11 percent on the prior year’s revenue (€620 million), the company believes it is well-positioned going forwards considering the difficult market conditions over the past year caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
CeramTec attributes its ability to navigate the impacts of the pandemic to the broad diversification of its business model, which saw the strengthening of the company’s medical division through the acquisition of ceramic dental implant specialist Dentalpoint AG, in addition to new product launches in its industrial division.
The company reported a “positive trend” at the beginning of FY 2021 and expects this to continue throughout the year as a result of innovations and upcoming international projects concerning its 3D printing activities.
“We experienced strong fluctuations in demand last year,” said Hadi Saleh, CEO of the CeramTec Group. “Compared to other industries and companies, however, we came out of the pandemic quite well. This is where our diversity and range of application in our business model pays off, through which we reach a diversified customer base and end-user market.”
CeramTec’s FY 2020 results
Having developed, manufactured, and supplied technical ceramics for more than a century, CeramTec is a global leader in this field. The company’s products, of which there are more than 10,000, are used in a range of industries including medical engineering, automotive, electronics, energy, and environmental engineering, and more.
The company reports its revenue through its medical products and industrial divisions. Revenue for the firm’s medical products business during FY 2020 was €230.2 million, down 11 percent on FY 2019 (€258.7 million). According to CeramTec, revenues were impacted by lower order income and order cancellations and postponements from customers as a result of fewer elective surgeries taking place during the pandemic.
The company’s industrial business reported €322.5 million revenue in FY 2020, a 10.8 percent decrease on the figure reported in FY 2019 (€361.7 million). The decrease was mainly as a result of lower volumes across most product groups due to lower demand from customers and order cancellations following the Covid-19 outbreak, although CeramTec acknowledges a general slowing of the automotive and electronic component markets prior to the pandemic.
The impacts were partly mitigated by a spike in demand for the company’s piezo ceramics for sensors for medical equipment, in particular.
CeramTec also noted the development of the US and Chinese markets is of growing importance to the company as it looks to continue expanding its international business activities.
|(Million €)||FY 2020||FY 2019||% change|
|Medical Products revenue||230.2||258.7||-11|
CeramTec’s 3D printing activities
In its annual report, CeramTec stated it considers itself “well equipped” for FY 2021 due to a large number of international projects and initiatives the company has ongoing, including 3D printing: “Innovations, such as in 3D printing, as well as the expansion of business activities in Asia and the USA, contribute to this,” the firm revealed.
According to the company, though, 3D printing still isn’t commonly used to produce industrial ceramic parts, however it seems likely that CeramTec will look to increase its 3D printing activities throughout 2021 and beyond, having added a new ROCAR 3D printing powder to its material portfolio earlier this year.
The novel material possesses the properties of silicon carbide (SiSiC), making it potentially well-suited to producing prototype parts or for small production runs within plant-based settings. CeramTech suggests ROCAR 3D may help to increase the use of 3D printing for industrial ceramic parts by offering faster processing speeds and better value for money than that of conventional ceramics.
Innovations in ceramic 3D printing
Ceramics possess a number of properties such as wear-resistance and chemical stability that make them ideal for 3D printing applications ranging from tools to dental products. However, their inherent fragility and complex sintering requirements have often made them difficult to process and vulnerable to cracking.
Saying this, there are continual developments within the sector to advance ceramics 3D printing, and one company at the forefront of this is binder jetting 3D printer manufacturer, ExOne, whose 3D printers are capable of printing metals, ceramics, and composites, with new materials being qualified continuously. In January, the company licensed a new patent-pending 3D printing method from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to allow it to fabricate enhanced lightweight metal-ceramic parts.
In November last year, Israeli pharmaceutical firm Syqe Medical installed a Carmel 1400 additive manufacturing system from 3D printer and materials manufacturer XJet in order to produce high-precision and heat-resistant ceramic parts for the medical sector. Meanwhile, the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) developed a multi-material jetting (MMJ) system that combines high-performance ceramics and metals into a single 3D printed part.
Elsewhere, Skoltech scientists have developed a novel method of 3D printing personalized ceramic bone implants, while mission critical space systems specialist Redwire printed a set of ceramic components in space for the first time.
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Featured image shows CeramTec is a global leader in manufacturing and supplying technical ceramics. Image via CeramTec.