Polymer derived ceramic parts of complex shape were fabricated by selective laser curing (SLC). The ceramic parts were built similar to the selective laser sintering process by sequentially irradiating layers consisting of SiC loaded polysiloxane powder with a CO2-laser beam (λ = 10.6 μm), which locally induces curing reaction of the polymer phase at moderate temperatures around 400 °C. The laser-cured bodies were converted to Si-O-C/SiC ceramic parts in a subsequent pyrolysis treatment at 1200 °C in argon atmosphere. The scanning speed and the power of the CO2-laser beam were varied, leading to pronounced differences in material properties. Laser irradiating a powder mixture containing 50 vol.% polymer/50 vol.% SiC resulted in relative green densities between 38 and 60%. Relative densities decreased to 32-50% after pyrolysis due to the polymer shrinkage. A post-infiltration with liquid silicon was carried out in order to produce dense parts. While before infiltration the bending strength only attained 17 MPa as a result of both microcracks in the Si-O-C matrix and a pronounced porosity, an average value of 220 MPa was achieved after post-infiltrating with Si. In the case of 50 vol.% SiC content the linear shrinkage after pyrolysis was only 3%. Thus, the SLC approach can be considered as a near-net-shape forming process of ceramic components with complex geometries. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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