Ceramics are widely used in industries
for a range of purposes. Due to their high heat resistant properties and
extreme durability, they can be used successfully in refractory, metallurgical,
glassware, oil refinery and such other processes. Today industrial ceramic
manufacture is a huge industry in itself and there are several multimillion
dollar companies in the field, researching and producing industrial ceramics.
Industrial Ceramic Materials
The materials used in the production of industrial ceramics are different
from those used in ceramic art forms. These materials need to be strong
and durable and be able to withstand very high temperatures. The common
materials used are oxides, carbides and nitrides of nonmetallic inorganic
Industrial ceramic materials have the following properties:
I. They should have a very low coefficient of thermal expansion so that
they can withstand a high temperature. This low expansion also helps the
ceramics to be manufactured without much error, or else there could be
a dimension difference when the ceramic is cooling down after firing.
II. They should have high melting points so that they can sustain the
high temperatures used in most industrial processes.
III. They should be insulating to electricity.
IV. They should be insulating to heat.
V. They should have a high wear resistance
Preparation of Industrial Ceramics
Industrial ceramics are made from nonmetallic mineral clays. The minerals
are first taken in the right proportion to obtain all the required properties,
and then they are crushed and ground into a very fine consistency. In
order to remove impurities, purifying chemical solutions are added to
the mixture. Any impurity is removed in the form of a precipitate. Then
wax is added to minerals. Wax acts as a binder and it holds the clay together.
Plastics could also be added in case the ceramic requires to be more tenacious
and durable. Plastic also improves the pliability of the ceramic.
Different processes are used to manufacture industrial ceramics. Some
I. Slip casting
II. Pressure casting
III. Injection Molding
When all the processes are accomplished, and the ceramic has got its shape,
the materials are molded and heated for a second and final step. This
final stage in the preparation of industrial ceramics is called 'densification'.
In general the manufacture of industrial ceramics is complicated and involves
numerous processes using very specific and expensive production equipment.
Ceramics are used in the industry for a wide variety of purposes that
mostly involve insulation. The following are some areas where industrial
ceramics are used:
I. In fuel industry, industrial ceramics are used to manufacture proppants
that are required for hydraulic fracturing process of oil wells and natural
II. In electric appliances, industrial ceramics are used for glazing and
insulation. Zirconium oxide is commonly used in manufacturing such industrial
III. In refractories, industrial ceramics are used to manufacture crucibles
and various other objects that require a high heat resistance. For the
same purpose, ceramics are also used in kilns, furnaces, glass manufacture
and metallurgical operations.
IV. Various electric fittings are made from aluminum oxide ceramics. Castings
for fuse wires, holders of light bulbs, etc. are some of the areas where
industrial ceramics are used.
V. Industrial ceramics are used to manufacture filter slices which are
used to filter out waste gases in industrial operations.
VI. Zirconium ceramics are used to manufacture tips for circular knitting
VII. Industrial ceramics are used in manufacture of ovens and thermal
storages in industry.
Industrial ceramics are an important part of the day-to-day operations
in any manufacturing process that involves heat and electricity. Though
these may not be beautiful to look at, they are indispensable and highly
useful to the industrial world.