Ceramics has numerous positive properties. It has thus conquered an ever wider range of applications. It has long since ceased to be used only for making decorations, household vessels or tableware. For more than 200 years, ceramics have also been used more and more in the manufacture of technical products. But it is precisely the positive properties that make ceramic materials so popular that make ceramic processing difficult.
The problems with ceramic processing
Ceramics are very hard, brittle materials. During ceramic processing there is always the danger that the components will break or at least pieces will break off or flake off. A very careful and careful processing is therefore necessary. Due to the hardness of ceramic materials, the number of possible cutting tools for these materials is also limited. Since these materials are also very heat-resistant and insensitive to chemical influences, heat treatment and etching are no longer possible.
The different types of ceramic processing
In principle, there are three points in time in the production of ceramic applications where processing is possible. The first time is the green body, i.e. the unfired shaped body. At this point, mechanical processing is still relatively simple. The material is still soft. It just has to be handled carefully so that the green compact does not break apart. It must also be noted that the sintering process causes the material to shrink.
The second possible processing time is when the sintering process is interrupted. This interruption occurs when the binders have already been burned out and the first material bridges have formed in the ceramic material. The material is not yet so hard and brittle. Therefore, it can still be processed comparatively well. There is still a subsequent shrinkage, but this is much less than when processing the green body.
Finally, the component can be machined after the end of the sintering process. At this point, although machining is most difficult, it also guarantees the highest precision because there is no more shrinkage.
Which ceramic processing is still possible after sintering?
There are a number of companies that offer ceramic machining. The simplest forms of processing are marking and product finishing. This includes glazing, baking of markings or metallization. In addition, mechanical processing is also possible. This requires a special technology and appropriate machines. To be offered:
one- or two-sided surface grinding
Cylindrical grinding, both internal and external
Processing with a laser
Machining of ceramic components with a laser
Very high precision of the assemblies is often required, for example in the automotive industry. This precision can usually only be achieved with ceramic materials by subsequent processing. With a laser, microstructures can be applied to surfaces, micro and precision drillings can be made and high-precision cuts can be made. Since no wear and tear occurs on the laser during processing, the bores and cuts can be reproduced almost as often as required and are consistently precise.