Ceramics FAQ’s

What are ceramics?

Mention the term “ceramics” and most people will think of traditional pottery items such as plates, mugs, plant pots and such like. But ceramics is a very broad term for a wide range of products each with their own characteristics and uses. In terms of their chemistry, ceramics can be defined as any non-metal and non-organic solid including (but not limited to) porcelain, cement, and glass. Ceramics are all around us in daily life.

What are the different types of ceramics?

Traditional ceramics are also known as structural ceramics. These are mostly clay-based and include bricks, dinnerware,  and statues to name a few. They are shaped and formed through being pressed or through extrusion. Their density is influenced by the size of the particles and the firing temperature.

Technical ceramics are made to perform a specific job or purpose and are specially engineered through their chemical composition and production process.

Refractory ceramics are resistant to very high temperatures and hold their shape and form. Found in kilns and furnaces they can hold molten materials such as liquified metal. Constructed with oxides, the purer the oxides the higher the refractory qualities. Being able to withstand temperatures of 3000 degrees centigrade makes them suitable for high-stress situations such as industrial furnaces and jet engines.

Electrical ceramics are resistant to the flow of an electrical current, and therefore ceramic materials such as porcelain have traditionally been used as electrical insulators. Some ceramics, however, are excellent conductors of electricity and as a result are used as electrical components in a number of devices.

What are technical ceramics?

Technical ceramics are sometimes referred to as advanced ceramics. They are also known as high-tech ceramics or high-performance ceramics. Technical ceramics are most commonly used in industrial, commercial and specialist applications that require materials with high mechanical strength, abrasion, chemical resistance, electrical insulation and resistance to high temperatures.

What are the basic ingredients of a glaze?

Every glaze is made of the following 3 materials:

Silica – this material creates glass when it is heated past 3100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alumina – this ingredient solidifies the glaze so it doesn’t slide off the clayware when fired at high temperatures. Alumina is also used as the specialist material of choice in approximately 80% of engineering applications.

Flux – this ingredient enables the glaze to melt at temperatures low enough to be used in ceramics.

What is kiln furniture?

Kiln furniture is the system of shelving, supports and other paraphernalia which enables multiple layers of ware, or irregularly shaped ceramics to be fired using the entire chamber of a kiln. Without these items you would only be able to fire ware which could sit securely on the base of the kiln. Batts, shelves, tubes, beams, and props are all examples of kiln furniture which is made to withstand temperature tolerances suitable different types of ceramics.

What is Silicon Carbide?

Silicon carbide is an extremely hard, synthetically produced crystalline compound of silicon and carbon. Its chemical formula is SiC. It was discovered in 1891 by the American inventor Edward G. Acheson while he was trying to make artificial diamonds.