Applications for Macor in the Aerospace Sector
Macor has the advantage of tolerating the high temperatures and voltages experienced in the aerospace industry.
Advanced technical ceramics have become a mainstay in the aerospace industry over the past two decades. They are essential for manufacturing components in military and commercial aircraft as well as spacecraft and satellites.
Ceramics such as Macor have the advantage of being lighter than any metal that could perform a specific role – a crucial factor in aerospace, where the weight of a spacecraft and its payload govern the cost of a mission. They are used in components such as antennas, sensors, capacitors and resistors.
One of the first uses of Macor, a machinable glass ceramic developed by Corning Inc., was in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner and later in NASA’s space shuttle. This ceramic has the appearance of porcelain but chemically is a mixture of fluorphlogipite mica that is distributed with a matrix of borosilicate glass.
This ceramic is able to remain chemically stable at temperatures as high as 800 degrees C and up to a maximum temperature of 1,000 degrees C. But unlike its metal counterparts, it does not deform at these high temperatures. It is also an excellent electrical insulator at these high temperatures.
These properties led to Macor being used in hinges, doors and windows in NASA’s space shuttle orbiter vehicle.Macor has also found multiple applications in the medical sector. Ceramics have been used in replacement hip joints since the late 1970s but came to serious public attention when the golfer Jack Nicklaus had a total hip replacement using ceramics in 1999.
Previously, hip replacements were made of a polyethylene and metal composition. But the problematic factor here was that as the material came under increased use, it generated substantial amounts of erosional polyethylene debris. These particulates in turn induced osteolysis, an immune response from the body that resulted in the implant become loose and, eventually, useless.
In contrast, the ceramic implant has been capable of extending the lifetime of the new joint by over 20 years. And as a result, the patient is able to continue with an active lifestyle.
Implanted electronic devices such as pacemakers, hearing devices and defibrillators have become an important sector in ceramic technology. The devices may be made entirely from the ceramic or of a metal that is later coated with the ceramic to provide a biocompatible and wear-resistant surface.
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