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Design & Development & Testing of Ceramic and Glass Materials

Ceramic and glass materials can withstand extreme environmental conditions with no degradation for many years, decades and centuries

Design & Development & Testing of Ceramic and Glass Materials

Ceramic materials are inorganic, non-metallic solids prepared by the action of heating and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous (such as glass). Most common ceramics are crystalline. Our work deals mostly with Technical Ceramics, also known as Engineering Ceramic, Advanced Ceramic or Special Ceramic. Examples of applications of technical ceramic are cutting tools, ceramic balls in ball bearings, gas burner nozzles, ballistic protection, nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets, bio-medical implants, jet engine turbine blades, and missile nose cones. The raw materials generally do not include clays. Glass on the other hand, even though not considered a ceramic, uses the same and very similar processing and manufacturing and testing methods as ceramic.

Using advanced design and simulation software and materials lab equipment AGS-Engineering offers:

  • Development of ceramic formulations

  • Raw material selection

  • Design & development of ceramic products (3D, thermal design, electromechanical design…)

  • Process design, plant flow and layouts

  • Manufacturing support in areas that include advanced ceramics

  • Equipment selection, custom equipment design & development

  • Toll Processing, Dry and Wet Processes, Proppant Consulting and Testing

  • Testing services for ceramic materials and products

  • Design & development and testing services for glass materials and finished products

  • Prototyping & Rapid Prototyping of Advanced Ceramic or Glass Products

  • Litigation and expert witness


Technical ceramics can be classified into three distinct material categories:

  • Oxides: Alumina, zirconia

  • Non-oxides: Carbides, borides, nitrides, silicides

  • Composites: Particulate reinforced, combinations of oxides and non-oxides.


Each one of these classes can develop unique material properties thanks to the fact that ceramics tend to be crystalline. Ceramic materials are solid and inert, brittle, hard, strong in compression, weak in shearing and tension. They withstand chemical erosion when subjected to acidic or caustic environment. Ceramics generally can withstand very high temperatures that range from 1,000 °C to 1,600 °C (1,800 °F to 3,000 °F). Exceptions include inorganic materials that do not include oxygen such as silicon carbide or silicon nitride.  Many people do not realize that creating a product out of advanced technical ceramics is a demanding endeavor that requires considerably more work than metals or polymers. Every type of technical ceramic has specific thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties that can vary significantly depending on the environment the material is and conditions it is processed under. Even the manufacturing process of the exact same type of technical ceramic material can drastically change its properties.


Some popular applications of ceramics:

Ceramics are used in the manufacture of industrial knives. Blades of ceramic knives will stay sharp for much longer than that of a steel knives, although it is more brittle and can be snapped by dropping it on a hard surface. 


In motorsports, a series of durable and lightweight insulatory coatings have become necessary, for example on exhaust manifolds, made of ceramic materials.


Ceramics like alumina and boron carbide have been used in ballistic armored vests to repel large-caliber rifle fire. Such plates are known as Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPI). Similar material are used to protect cockpits of some military airplanes, because of the low weight of the material.


Ceramic balls are being used in some ball bearings. Their higher hardness means that they are much less susceptible to wear and can offer more than triple lifetimes. They also deform less under load meaning they have less contact with the bearing retainer walls and can roll faster. In very high speed applications, heat from friction during rolling can cause problems for metal bearings; problems which are reduced by the use of ceramics. Ceramics are also more chemically resistant and can be used in wet environments where steel bearings would rust. The two major drawbacks to using ceramics is a significantly higher cost, and susceptibility to damage under shock loads. In many cases their electrically insulating properties may also be valuable in bearings.


Ceramic materials may also be used in engines of automobiles and transportation equipment in the future. Ceramic engines are made of lighter materials and do not require a cooling system, thereby allowing a major weight reduction. Fuel efficiency of the engine is also higher at higher temperatures, as shown by Carnot's theorem. As a disadvantage, in a conventional metallic engine, much of the energy released from the fuel must be dissipated as waste heat in order to prevent a meltdown of the metallic parts. However, despite all of these desirable properties, ceramic engines are not in widespread production because the manufacturing of ceramic parts with the required precision and durability is difficult. Imperfections in the ceramic materials lead to cracks, which can lead to potentially dangerous equipment failure. Such engines have been demonstrated under laboratory settings, but mass-production is not feasible yet with current technology.


Work is being conducted in developing ceramic parts for gas turbine engines. Currently, even blades made of advanced metal alloys used in the engines' hot section require cooling and carefully limiting operating temperatures. Turbine engines made with ceramics could operate more efficiently, giving aircraft greater range and payload for a set amount of fuel.


Advanced ceramic materials are used for producing watch cases. The material is favored by users for its light weight, scratch-resistance, durability, smooth touch and comfort at cold temperatures as compared to metal cases.


Bio-ceramics, such as dental implants and synthetic bones are another promising area. Hydroxyapatite, the natural mineral component of bone, has been made synthetically from a number of biological and chemical sources and can be formed into ceramic materials. Orthopedic implants made from these materials bond readily to bone and other tissues in the body without rejection or inflammatory reactions. Because of this, they are of great interest for gene delivery and tissue engineering scaffolds. Most hydroxyapatite ceramics are very porous and lack mechanical strength and are therefore used to coat metal orthopedic devices to aid in forming a bond to bone or as bone fillers only. They are also used as fillers for orthopedic plastic screws to aid in reducing the inflammation and increase absorption of these plastic materials. Research is ongoing to produce strong and very dense nano-crystalline hydroxyapatite ceramic materials for orthopedic weight bearing devices, replacing foreign metal and plastic orthopedic materials with a synthetic, but naturally occurring, bone mineral. Ultimately these ceramic materials may be used as bone replacements or with the incorporation of protein collagens, they may be used as synthetic bones.


Crystalline ceramics

Crystalline ceramic materials are not amenable to a great range of processing. There are mainly two generic methods of processing - put the ceramic in the desired shape, by reaction in situ, or by "forming" powders into the desired shape, and then sintering to form a solid body. Ceramic forming techniques include shaping by hand (sometimes including a rotation process called "throwing"), slip casting, tape casting (used for making very thin ceramic capacitors, etc.), injection moulding, dry pressing, and other variations.  Other methods use a hybrid between the two approaches.


Non-crystalline ceramics

Non-crystalline ceramics, being glasses, are formed from melts. The glass is shaped when either fully molten, by casting, or when in a state of toffee-like viscosity, by methods such as blowing to a mold. If later heat-treatments cause this glass to become partly crystalline, the resulting material is known as a glass-ceramic.


The technical ceramic processing technologies our engineers are experienced in are:

  • Die Pressing

  • Hot Pressing

  • Isostatic Pressing

  • Hot Isostatic Pressing

  • Slip Casting and Drain Casting

  • Tape Casting

  • Extrusion Forming

  • Low Pressure Injection Molding

  • Green Machining

  • Sintering & Firing

  • Diamond Grinding

  • Assemblies of Ceramic Materials such as Hermetic Assembly

  • Secondary Manufacturing Operations on Ceramics such as Metallization, Plating, Coating, Glazing, Joining, Soldering, Brazing


Glass processing technologies we are familiar with include:

  • Press and Blow / Blow and Blow

  • Glass Blowing

  • Glass Tube and Rod Forming

  • Sheet Glass & Float Glass Processing

  • Precision Glass Molding

  • Glass Optical Components Manufacturing and Testing (Grinding, Lapping, Polishing)

  • Secondary Processes on Glass (such as Etching, Flame Polishing, Chemical Polishing…)

  • Glass Components Assembly, Joining, Soldering, Brazing, Optical Contacting, Epoxy Attaching & Curing


Product test capabilities include:

  • Ultrasonic testing

  • Visible and fluorescent dye penetrant inspection

  • X-ray analysis

  • Conventional Visual Inspection Microscopy

  • Profilometry, Surface Roughness Test

  • Roundness testing & Cylindricity measurement

  • Optical comparators

  • Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) with multi-sensor capabilities

  • Color Testing & Color Difference, Gloss, Haze Tests

  • Electrical and Electronic Performance Tests (Insulation Properties….etc.)

  • Mechanical Tests (Tensile, Torsion, Compression…)

  • Physical Testing & Characterization (Density….etc.)

  • Environmental Cycling, Aging, Thermal Shock Testing

  • Wear Resistance Test

  • XRD

  • Conventional Wet Chemical Tests (such as Corrosive Environments…..etc.) as well as Advanced Instrumental Analytical Tests.


Some major ceramic materials our engineers are experienced in include:

  • Alumina

  • Cordierite

  • Forsterite

  • MSZ (Magnesia-Stabilized Zirconia)

  • Grade "A" Lava

  • Mullite

  • Steatite

  • YTZP (Yttria Stabilized Zirconia)

  • ZTA (Zirconia Toughened Alumina)

  • CSZ (Ceria Stabilized Zirconia)

  • Porous Ceramics

  • Carbides

  • Nitrides


If you are mostly interested in our manufacturing capabilities instead of engineering capabilities, we recommend you to visit our custom manufacturing site

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