According to BCC Research (a Massachusetts-based market research firm) the world will use $12 billion worth of technical ceramics powder in 2018, an annual rise of 6.2 per cent from the 2013 consumption levels.
Nanoceramics, or advanced ceramic powders, are a type of inorganic, granular material that forms the basis of solid technical ceramics. In contrast to industrial minerals, these are borides, carbides, nitrides and oxides that are specially purified to work as a starting material for the technical ceramic process.
The resulting technical ceramics are used to construct advanced components that can work with supreme precision and outperform any competing items made of metal or plastic.
The first starting material for these ceramics was alumina — aluminium oxide — powder. Silicon carbide and silicon nitride are other materials that make the basis for technical ceramics.
There are two main qualities to these materials:
- Their even distribution of particle sizes
- Their chemical purity
One of the most superior technical ceramics produced from these powders is a zirconia polycrystal that is chemically inert, strong and corrosion-resistant. Its tetragonal structure and yttrium-stabilised state provide exceptional fracture toughness.
Called Y-TZP in the ceramics industry, it is particularly suitable for many biomedical applications as well as other uses ranging from dentistry to aerospace.
The key to this material’s strength is a grain size on average of less than one micron combined with an yttrium concentration of 5.4 per cent by weight. If a crack appears in the crystal, the stress generated by the crack resists any further growth. This is in contrast to conventional materials such as metal and plastic (including advanced plastics) that weaken as a result of cracking and so enable a crack to propagate and cause a probable rupture of the component in question.
On top of its excellent mechanical properties, the material has an exceptional surface smoothness because of its small crystal size. This means that Y-TZP can be used in tooth crowns, refractory materials, cutting tools, solid fuel cells and electro-ceramics. These applications will ensure future growth in the technical ceramic market over the coming years.
For more information on technical ceramics, please browse through our range of products and contact us at Multi Lab to discuss your further requirements. Our in-house professionals will manufacture a bespoke solution for any challenging situation.