Silicon nitride (Si3N4) and silicon carbide (SiC) systems have been used in industry for many years, and both systems have a range of properties that make them excellent choices in a number of demanding environments.
In the industrial world, brittle materials include the range of cemented tungsten carbide grades, the entire family of advanced ceramics—including silicon carbide, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide, zirconia and zirconia-toughened alumina, boron carbide and others—and polycrystalline diamond.
Silicon nitride (Si3N4) is a naturally formed material created during the development of the earth due to the ammonia-rich atmosphere, silicon-rich crust and high temperatures.Silicon nitride was first developed synthetically in 1859 by Deville and Wöhler, resulting in a patent filed in Germany.
For centuries, ceramic materials were used exclusively for tableware and building materials. In the mid-19th century, technical development in refractories and abrasives enabled the development of modern metallurgy and glass industries and became the first industrial application for ceramics.
My daughter recently introduced me to the wonders of Internet radio and it’s official—I’m hooked. At the risk of dating myself, let me just say the ’80s channel is getting a lot of play in my office. I’m amazed that I know the lyrics of so many of these songs, most of which I’d forgotten even existed. But I digress.
Although more than 500 suppliers of cutting tools, parts and supplies exist worldwide, the competitive field for ceramic tools is much narrower, and only a handful of companies control the large majority of the market.
A range of new, wear-resistant custom products made of fine ceramics such as zirconia, alumina oxide, silicon nitride, silicon and boron carbide, monocristal sapphire, and fused quartz is now available.