Manufacturing with Ceramics

The 2002 National Design Engineering show at National Manufacturing Week will feature a number of high-tech ceramic products, along with the latest in manufacturing technology.

Photo courtesy of Astro Met, Inc.
More than 1600 companies in over 100 major product groups will exhibit the latest industry technologies, solutions and innovations at this year’s National Manufacturing Week (NMW), March 18-21, 2002, at Chicago’s McCormick Place Complex. Positioned as the nation’s only event dedicated to the entire manufacturing process, NMW encompasses everything from design through finished product, including all of the related functions within the manufacturing business.

The show unites four distinct areas of manufacturing—National Industrial Enterprise IT, National Industrial Automation, National Plant Engineering MRO & Management, and National Design Engineering. The Design Engineering area, which addresses the needs of the $770 billion design engineering market, is especially key for manufacturers of ceramic products.

Photo courtesy of Ceradyne, Inc.

Promoting Ceramic Products

Over 1000 exhibitors—including a number of ceramic manufacturers—will gather at the Design Engineering show to promote the latest tools, components and materials used in mechanical and electromechanical design and product development. (See sidebar, “Ceramic/Glass Exhibitors,” for a list of ceramic-related companies exhibiting at this year’s show.)

According to John Mangels, director of Sales and Marketing at Ceradyne, Inc., the Design Engineering show gives ceramic manufacturers a unique opportunity to position their products in the market. “It gives us a chance to show design engineers the types of parts that can successfully be produced with ceramics, while also helping Ceradyne develop name recognition among design engineers, who are potential customers,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics.
Kate Deurloo, marketing communications manager for Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics, agreed. “We manufacture CERBEC® silicon nitride balls used as bearing components in a wide variety of applications, and we are trying to educate the market on the uses of hybrid bearings as opposed to conventional steel. There are many new products and applications that have not tested hybrid bearings with CERBEC balls that we can identify at the Design Engineering show,” she said.

For some ceramic manufacturers, the show also provides a key incentive to continue investing in research and development programs. “It’s a good opportunity for us to see the flow of technology, as well as to present CeramTec’s technology,” said Walt Dollman, executive vice president of CeramTec North America, Innovative Ceramic Engineering Corp.

Most of the ceramic and glass manufacturers will be exhibiting together in what has commonly been known as the “ceramic pavilion.” According to Frank W. Gorman, manager of the Advanced Ceramics Division at Astro Met, Inc., grouping ceramic-related companies together “provides the attendees an opportunity to view numerous ceramic companies without walking the entire show floor. It’s a benefit to the attendees in terms of time management.” Gorman also noted that the bigger the ceramic pavilion, the better. “Having additional ceramic manufacturers exhibiting in the ceramics pavilion would enable the pavilion to grow in size and would position the ceramic industry as an industry of increasing importance to the design engineering community,” he said.

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment. “I don’t think it’s important for all ceramic-related companies to be grouped together, as many ceramic companies specialize in a particular product, material and/or application. It would make more sense to group companies by product or application focus rather than by ‘material’ or industry classification,” Deurloo said.

Regardless of where ceramic companies are located in the exhibit hall, everyone agrees that the show provides an important marketing benefit. “It’s a good opportunity for ceramic manufacturers who are interested in selling components into structural applications,” said Mangels.

Photo courtesy of Vesuvius McDanel.

Exhibiting New Technologies

While the slow economy has caused several ceramic-related exhibitors to trim back the size of their exhibits and/or the number of people they are sending to the show, most exhibitors will be displaying new products and applications this year.

For example, Astro Met, Inc., will display its new AmAlOx 68, a high-purity, 99.8% aluminum oxide ceramic that has been developed and optimized for maximum wear and corrosion resistance in a wide range of industrial applications, including chemical process equipment, paper products, automotive, medical, aerospace, semiconductors and robotics. New silicon nitride components for bearing and automotive applications will be on display at Ceradyne’s booth; CeramTec will exhibit its new enhanced piezo-actuators; and Saint-Gobain will showcase a variety of new applications for its CERBEC ceramic balls.

Vesuvius McDanel will exhibit an assortment of finished products, ranging from high density, high purity aluminum oxide to zirconia, mullite and SiAlON crucibles. The company will also display Vesuvius Hi-Tech’s line of reticulated (porous) ceramics, made from alumina and zirconia materials, for applications ranging from molten metal filtration to low thermal mass kiln furniture.

Other products that will be on display include custom-manufactured, technical ceramic components from CoorsTek and Superior Technical Ceramics Corp.; ceramics for heat and electrical insulation from Du-Co Ceramics Co.; Al2O3, ZrO2, and ZTA bodies for electronic and industrial applications from Heany Industries; and specialty graphites and silicon carbide materials from Poco Graphite Inc.

Many companies will also use this year’s show as chance to identify promising new markets. “The Design Engineering show is a unique opportunity to seek out new and developing technologies that might have a potential need for our engineered ceramic materials,” said Brian Vernon, regional account manager for Vesuvius McDanel.

Finding Manufacturing Solutions

The Design Engineering show and other segments of National Manufacturing Week are more than just product displays—they’re an opportunity to evaluate and improve just about any manufacturing operation, including ceramics. From cost cutting and profit generation to problem solving and relationship building, National Manufacturing Week will cover a range of manufacturing solutions. In addition to the exhibitions, over 100 conference sessions will discuss standards development, ISO 9000 and 14000 certification, Six Sigma strategies, and lean manufacturing, as well as other informative topics. Other events at the show will include end-user panels and sessions, which will allow leading companies to share their manufacturing strategies; technology transfer solutions from NASA, which will be available to a wide variety of industries; and an Innovation Arena, which will enable attendees to hear the latest manufacturing strategies and see the solutions in action.

For More Information

For more information about National Manufacturing Week or Design Engineering, contact Reed Exhibitions at (800) 840-0678, or visit

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