Alumina 99.5 represents the most commonly utilized ceramic material in industry. Purity levels are available from 85% through 99.9%. This is because of extremely superior abrasion, high temperature and chemical resistance. It is electrically insulating as well. This material has an excellent cost to part life performance record for ceramic parts.
Aluminum Nitride While AlN is not a 'new' material, recent manufacturability developments over the past 15 years have made this an exciting and viable ceramic design material.
Boron Nitride is made using a hot pressing process, and comes as a lubricious white solid. It can be machined using standard carbide drills.
Cordierite is mainly a structural ceramic, often used for kiln furniture due to its extremely good thermal shock resistance. Like other structural ceramic materials, it also has good thermal and electrical insulating capabilities.
Corning Pyrex Pyrex is a Trade Name of Corning Inc. for their borosilicate glass. Borosilicate is known for its ability to withstand thermal shock, and thermal and electrical insulating qualities.
Graphite oxidizes under (heated) use in an air (oxidizing) environment, and therefore finds its use in inert and vacuum applications such as furnace insulation packages and semiconductor.
Lava Grade A is a machineable ceramic material, sometimes referred to as 'alumino-silicate', based on its chemical formula. It has a high use temperature, and excellent thermal and electrical insulating properties.
Macor is a machineable glass ceramic material offering many advantageous properties, including high use temperature, excellent insulating properties (electrical and thermal), and dimensional stability. It can be polished, machined to tight tolerances, tapped, sealed, and metallized.
Mullite is an excellent structural material due to its high temperature stability, strength and creep resistance. It has a low dielectric constant and high electrical insulation capabilities.
Quartz applications are endless where optical clarity, chemical and thermal resistance and insulation, and hardness are required. Commonly used in the semiconductor world and the lighting industry.
Sapphire advantages as a design material are numerous. Extremely high use temperature, hardness, optical clarity, flexural strength, and chemical resistance make this an increasingly popular choice.
Silicon is frequently used in semiconductor applications. Dopants, crystallographic direction, purity (and resistance) make this a highly versatile design ceramic.
Silicon Carbide (SiC) is an artificial (man-made) mineral known for its very high hardness and abrasion resistance.
Silicon Nitride is used as a high temperature structural ceramic due to superior heat resistance, strength, and hardness. The wear and corrosion resistance are excellent.
Steatite L-5 has applications where insulating and temperature resistance are a concern. Many insulators and other standoffs are made of Steatite. The cost of this material is relatively low when compared with other ceramic materials.
Tool Steel The properties of tool steel are given here to serve as a comparison of properties between metal and ceramic materials.
Zirconia has the ability to absorb great amounts of stress relative to other ceramic materials. It exhibits the highest mechanical strength and toughness at room temperature. Zirconia has excellent wear, chemical and corrosion resistance and low thermal conductivity.
Why use ceramic instead of metal or plastic parts?
Ceramic materials excel in 'hostile' environments. This includes the following situations:
- Wear and abrasive applications.
- Corrosive environments (acidic and alkaline).
- Extreme temperatures (high or low), or thermal cycling.
- Electrical or thermal insulating.
- Accepts metalization, glazing, brazing, and ceramic-to-metal seals. Can be hermetically sealed.
- While the initial investment of the ceramic may be more expensive, this cost is quickly recovered in the form of longer service life and reduced machine down time.
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