Showcasing Innovation in the Ceramic Industry
Attendees of this month's Ceramics Expo will have the opportunity to see myriad innovations in the ceramic industry.
Innovation in the ceramic world is very much alive and well—and will be showcased April 26-28 for attendees of Ceramics Expo 2016 at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Reaction to last year’s event included many plaudits for breadth of content, quality of presentation, visitor information network, general amenities and professional organization. The number of exhibitors for the 2016 show has more than doubled (over 250 to date; see the List of Exhibitors and Floor Plan), and attendance is expected to jump significantly as well.
Some Exhibitor Highlights
Technical ceramics are used as important, high-performance components in a host of manufacturing industries, including those with significance workforces in the Cleveland area, such as automobile, aerospace, defense, medical and electronics. The Ceramics Expo magnet for technical, production, management and research executives is the suite of exciting innovations slated to be on show.
Among these innovations is IntrinSiC® from Schunk Carbon Technology, which is the first process to enable the manufacture—via 3-D printing—of complex monolithic components from extremely hard and dimensionally stable silicon carbide. “We have developed a new process where components can be produced from the ceramic material silicon carbide through 3-D printing, which wasn’t possible in the past because of the components’ complexity and size,” explains Arthur Lynen, Ph.D., who heads up the development department at Schunk Ingenieurkeramik, the specialized plant for technical ceramics from Schunk Carbon Technology.
This development enables the trouble-free creation of complex undercuts and hollow spaces for uniform and large-sized constructional elements using ceramics. Thanks to its extreme dimensional stability, IntrinSiC is particularly attractive to manufacturers of components that have to exhibit especially high rigidity and strength. The process is much faster, while using less material, than conventional technologies.
Naturally excellent thermal performance is another critical factor in the choice of ceramic materials. Included in a number of newly introduced products from Morgan Advanced Materials will be a range of kiln furniture made from a new high-performance nitride-bonded silicon carbide material, which is suitable for use at temperatures of up to 1,500ºC (2,730°F).
“Morgan is a market leader in advanced ceramic materials, so Ceramics Expo is a natural and logical place to exhibit and showcase our latest innovations,” says CEO Pete Raby. “In particular, we are keen to speak to design engineers and specifiers seeking new solutions for applications where ceramic materials may not even have been considered previously.… We look forward to strengthening existing partnerships and developing many new ones at Ceramics Expo 2016.”
One of the innovations leading the line in the SCHOTT presentation will be the company’s NEXTREMA® glass-ceramic, now available for high-temperature applications such as infrared heaters and radiators. NEXTREMA carries the advantages of technical glass (e.g., high transmission and a non-porous surface), and boasts heat resistance up to 1,740°F (950°C) and the ability to withstand thermal shock up to 1,470°F (800°C).
SCHOTT will also demonstrate the versatility of its DURAN® glass tubing line, which can be manufactured with different wall thicknesses and inner diameters. One novel application saw DURAN being used with an anti-reflective coating to cover a 360-degree camera for an extreme snowboarding summit in Germany; this technology can be applied to cameras at other sporting events, concerts, and in TV show production.
Young as it is, Ceramics Expo has proved to be a hotbed for development. For instance, following a successful reception last year, SolidCAM and G.W. Schultz Tool are this time leading a group of experts with Gen 2 enhancements to their iMachining CAM software and Cera_X cutting tools for ceramics. These innovations work in concert with a new CNC machine design from Tratech Corp., which was designed specifically for milling ceramics in the fully sintered (hard) state.
“This ceramics machining system provides ‘first cut’ success with dramatically increased efficiencies that result in huge reductions in cycle time, greatly improved G-ratios for longer tool life, and significant reductions in machine maintenance and downtime, all coming together for unbelievable cost savings,” explains Ken Merritt, Ceramics Manager at SolidCAM.
This technology changes the face of ceramics production, and attendees at Ceramics Expo will get to see the performance firsthand. An integral part of this worldwide debut will be live ceramic shaping demonstrations.
Not everything at the show gets bigger; some things get smaller, but by design. One of the features of the presentation by Ceramco will be the latest addition to the company’s high-volume powder injection molding (PIM) offerings. “This extension of our near-net shaping capability—aptly named MicroPIM—is allowing us to produce ceramic components as small as 0.05 g and in production quantities,” says Thomas Henriksen, president.
MicroPIM utilizes many of the alumina or zirconia production formulations Ceramco currently uses for its high-volume manufacturing of larger components. “The incredibly small scale of MicroPIM requires careful adjustments to the feedstock to achieve a very low viscosity,” adds Henriksen. “Other than that, it is virtually the same process Ceramco has been using successfully for 30 years. Everything is just much smaller.”
International cooperation plays its part in both the success and ongoing appeal of Ceramics Expo. One example is a successful technical collaboration between U.S.-based Direxa Engineering and French company Ceritherm. Two developments with interest for the traditional side of the industry as well as elsewhere will be revealed. One is a patented Skate-Kiln design, where the product, support and rolling gear are all in a completely airtight chamber (i.e., walls, crown and hearth are completely sealed). The products are no longer loaded on cars, nor supported and driven by mechanisms going through the kiln walls.
Second is the Ceriflow® dryer, heralded as a flexible and efficient tool for the ceramic industry. This is a tunnel dryer of modular design allowing different air conditions in each section to meet the products’ specific requirements. Completely automatic and with a maximum drying temperature of 200°C (392°F), the Ceriflow features built-in functions that achieve optimized interaction of the air with the products to be dried.
For additional information, visit www.ceramicsexpousa.com.