Ceramics. At the very basic level, these materials can be commonly found in shops selling utensils, pottery and décor items. They are quaintly beautiful and have a touch of elegance to them. But are those the only practical purposes for which ceramics are used? Advanced ceramics or technical ceramics find uses in many different industries and ceramic manufacturers are constantly in the pursuit of developing and producing useful ceramics for practical applications. Oxide, non-oxide and composite ceramics are the most popular categories of ceramics that are used in industrial applications. By usage, ceramics can be divided into four main categories, namely, structural, refractory, whiteware and technical. Structural ceramics are used in bricks, pipes, and tiling. Refractory ceramics, as the name suggests, are used in lining the insides of equipment that have to deal with insane amounts of heat, like kilns and crucibles. Whiteware can range from cooking utensils to sanitary ware. Lastly, technical ceramics are used in making nozzles, armor, turbine blades and many other high-intensity products.
Now that we have known about the different kinds of ceramics in use, let’s take a look at the industries that use technical and refractory ceramics in particular. Refractory ceramics are used in making crucibles that help in steel and glassmaking. These steel and glass products are way finer in detail than the normal products that we handle in our daily lives. As for steel, they can be precision weights and for glass, a simple example would be vacuum tubes. Refractory ceramics are also used as kiln linings, to help insulate the heat inside furnaces in a better way, while offering a long lifespan to the lining. In fire hydrants, refractory ceramics help in avoiding leakage or malfunction in case of accidental fire and high temperatures.
Technical ceramics can be exclusive design products, being the material only second in hardness to diamonds. They don’t have any adverse reactions with the skin and are highly resistant to wear and tear. Being biologically inert, technical ceramics also find a use in the medical and dental fields. Because of the high-temperature resistance, ceramic products are easy to sterilise as well. Through injection molding, ceramics can be used to create very complex structures, improving the degree to which their applications are feasible. The inert nature of technical ceramics can also be used to house sensors and related equipment which operate in highly corrosive or flammable environments.
The high degree of hardness of some ceramics finds use in making armor both for personnel and for vehicles. For body armor, the kind of ceramic that is most commonly used is boron carbide. In the event of a bullet hitting the ceramic, the bullet shatters upon impact, shattering the ceramic layer. However, the fiberglass backing on which the ceramic layer is bonded catches the fragments and minimizes injury. Thus, even upon a bullet impact, no fatal wounds are received, though minor bruising might happen.
In the electronics industry, advanced ceramics are used for a wide variety of purposes, from insulators to resistors and semiconductors. Apart from this, gas burner nozzles, nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets, jet engine turbine blade coatings, disk brakes, missile nose cones, mechanical bearings and tiles used in space shuttle programs also used advanced ceramics.