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The promise of additive manufacturing or 3-D printing—faster and cheaper manufacturing of more customizable parts—is limited by the palette of printable materials, which until now has included mainly polymers and some metals. Now we can add ceramics, an important class of materials whose high strength and resistance to heat, chemical degradation, and friction make them attractive for use in the military and the aerospace industries for everything from exterior airplane parts to small components for rockets.

Thanks to a materials science trick demonstrated by researchers at HRL Laboratories, engineers can now use additive manufacturing to quickly build customized, intricate ceramic parts that take advantage of all these attractive properties at once.

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