Macor: The Ceramic for Aerospace and Welding Nozzles
Macor is a major innovation in machinable glass ceramics with a huge range of applications for industrial, artistic and commercial uses.
Macor, machinable ceramics, ceramic
Macor is a material that is not porous, does not shrink and can withstand very high temperatures. Standard metal-working tools are able to shape it into a variety of complex shapes.
Chemical and Physical Properties
Chemically, Macor is an advanced polymer that consists of 55 per cent fluorophlogopite mica and 45 per cent borosilicate glass. This white material that resembles porcelain has high-performance characteristics and is non-wetting, does not outgas and is odourless as well as having zero porosity. It is as stable and machinable as a soft metal.
Its performance is outstanding, with the ability to shape up to accuracies of plus or minus 0.013 mm. The finished surface is accurate to 0.5 microns and 0.013 microns for a polished surface.
This machinable ceramic remains chemically stable up to a temperature of 800 degrees, but this can rise to 1,000 degrees C if it is not carrying any load. In contrast with other types of ductile materials, it does not deform or creep. It has a thermal expansion coefficient that can match most sealing glasses and metallic materials. This makes it an ideal thermal insulator that works over a wide frequency spectrum and at high voltages.
NASA’s Space Shuttle has been a major user of glass ceramics, with over 200 distinct parts at very sensitive points subject to high stresses in a spacecraft, such as windows, doors and hinges. Panels are also used in NASA spacecraft to detect gamma radiation.
This ceramic has also become an essential component of much welding machinery, especially the high-heat equipment such as the tip of an oxyacetylene torch. The strength here is the non-wetting property of Macor, which means that any melted particles will not adhere to the torch and reduce the nozzle’s effectiveness during the welding procedure.
The high machining tolerance of Macor means that it can be shaped down to an accuracy of one micron. In addition, its resistance to radiation means that it does not deform or disintegrate in any way under intense radiation, in contrast to other materials used in nuclear research. Consequently, it can be used as a reference for dimensional changes during any nuclear experiments.
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