Ceramics are made from a diverse group of materials

Ceramics represents a wide range of materials so the raw materials that are used in their production also span a fairly broad range. Ceramics share the same physical properties; they are all crystalline in their structure and have heat and electrical insulating properties. Ceramic dinner sets and bricks both contain the same raw materials which include bauxite or aluminum mixed with quartz, feldspar and mica. These raw materials are commonly called clay and they constitute 90 percent of the mineral compounds found on earth.

Ceramics are used as insulators for applications involving high heat as well as applications involving advanced electronics. Additional raw materials are used when making ceramics for these applications, including carbon and sulfur. A great deal of research into superconductors is being undertaken and ceramics play a definitive role in this research because ceramics have the ability to switch from an insulator to a superconductor when subjected to extremely low temperatures.

To make ceramics there are usually four steps involved in the process. The powder which is made from the various raw materials such as metals, silica, carbon, sulfur, etc is compressed under extremely high pressure to form a solid base material. At this stage the solid is machined to the desired shape. Once the shape has been established it is fired at temperatures up to 3,100 degrees F for periods of time from 20 hours to 120 hours depending on the desired properties. During this “baking” process, the component compresses a further 20 percent which makes the final step, finish machining with precise equipment. Upon completion the part meets exacting standards and tolerances.

Ceramics are not all this sophisticated, they are used in a wide range of products including ceramic dinner sets, porcelain cooking pots and vessels, knife blades, a variety of building materials such as flooring and pipes and even high temperature overcoats for the fan blades on jet engines. Ceramics are used extensively in the manufacture of dental bridges and dentures. Because of this extremely diverse range of products and applications the materials that are used in the ceramic compound must be equally diverse. The finished ceramic products, whether dinner sets or dentures all have unique characteristics, appearance and tolerances.

 

 

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