Triple Win for Ceramics Expo
Ceramics Expo 2019 will showcase innovative ceramic materials, cutting-edge manufacturing processes and ultra-performance components.
Ceramics Expo 2019, to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, from April 30-May 1, carries the tagline “the materials, manufacturing and components show.” As such, this free-to-attend, comprehensive supply chain event speaks both to and of technical ceramics, glass-ceramics, glass, composites, and associated materials. Due to its breadth of scope, Ceramics Expo attracts not only design and production engineers, plant operators, R&D personnel, and buyers, but also C-level executives, principally from the end-user industries whose notable advancement is one major reason for the ever-increasing uptake of ceramic technologies and products.
The overwhelmingly positive reaction to this year’s expo, now taking place over two action-packed days, is testament to the global reputation that has been garnered by Ceramics Expo over the last five years. By the time we open the doors on April 30, we expect an exhibit area featuring around 300 companies from over 25 countries (see the Exhibitor List and Floor Plan), and our pre-registrations give us confidence that over 3,100 people will attend. Covering ceramic science, materials and manufacturing technologies, and finished components is what we’re all about—and it’s a pretty unique offering.
Today’s advanced ceramics require the highest quality of raw materials, and visitors to Ceramics Expo can expect to meet up with those companies that specialize in developing and supplying them. One example is specialty alumina producer Alteo, located in France. Engaged in the growth of its activities, Alteo creates high-performance aluminas for demanding applications while constantly seeking to improve its environmental performance.
Alumina is a key raw material for technical ceramics, as it offers properties such as mechanical resistance, electrical insulation and wear resistance. Alteo has made a significant investment to develop the high-purity Bayer alumina process to address the needs of manufacturers seeking finer and purer products for high-end markets. Thanks to this investment in its Gardanne plant, the company is able to support customers that don’t need 4N or 5N high-purity alumina grades. Alteo will be promoting these products in Cleveland, as well as its established high-quality low-soda aluminas dedicated to the advanced ceramics industry.
The roll call of various materials experts demonstrating the latest formulations at Ceramics Expo means all key areas are covered. Visitors will have the opportunity to talk materials matters with the likes of Almatis, Denka, Inmatec, Covia/Unimin, Imerys, FX Minerals, H.C. Starck Surface Technology & Ceramic Powders, Alu-Chem, Baikowski, Minchem, Axiom Materials, Nyacol Nano Technologies, Cactus Materials, SINTX, Carbo Ceramics, Huber Engineered Materials, 3DCeram-Sinto, Henan Suntek, Micro Abrasives, and others.
Materials-related research and development activities taking place all over the world are crucial in processors eventually being able to bring improved recipes—as well as new formulations—to the table. A leading organization in this respect, and both an exhibitor and contributor to conference sessions, is Lucideon. The company works with companies and researchers to deliver joint projects, develop collaborative R&D proposals, manage live projects, and advance the exploitation of project results. The Lucideon Innovation Team plans the future direction of internal research and technical capabilities so that it can meet challenges in emerging areas for ceramics such as additive manufacturing, ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), and thermal barrier coatings.
The routes to ceramic and glass fabrication, along with associated product families such as cermets, CMCs and other composites, receive a full airing at Ceramics Expo. For example, Rauenstein, Germany-based FCT Systeme is an expert in the realization of high-temperature sintering equipment and complete production concepts exploiting highly advanced technologies. Recent development work has resulted in what the company calls hybrid sintering, a technique that combines different sintering methods (e.g., direct and indirect heating, uniaxial and gas pressure, high and low electrical fields), optionally completed by debinding, decoupled pre-heating, and cooling, as well as rate-controlled sintering.
Hybrid systems facilitate the development and production of all-new material solutions. FAST/Hybrid, for example, complements conventional hot pressing with an additional pulsed-current direct heating of the powder compact (FAST/SPS). Compared to hot pressing, this combination allows further improvement of heating rates and thermal homogeneity, superior to the characteristic advantages of the FAST/SPS technique. Several examples of the industrial application of FAST/Hybrid illustrate that hybrid systems provide new opportunities for the development and optimization of innovative materials, which are currently the subject of intensive research worldwide, in the fields of power engineering, e-mobility, aerospace, and other future-oriented fields of activity.
One interesting example of a new hybrid system is the combination of hot pressing and flash sintering, providing a much higher electrical field compared to FAST/SPS. This allows the development of ultrafast sintering of materials with low electrical conductivity (e.g., oxides, silicon carbide and others), opening the horizon for the production of technical parts and consumer goods made of oxide ceramics, such as tableware, floor and wall tile, and the like, with low energy consumption.
Another technology that has made a stir at Ceramics Expo and is showing no signs of slowing down is additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing). A recent BCC report predicts that the 3D-printed technical ceramics market will be worth $544 million by 2022. We hear from Morgan Advanced Materials that its Technical Ceramics division has been busy developing its 3D ceramic printing capability and will showcase this in Cleveland. The technology will be demonstrated through the company’s AL-300 alumina ceramic, which particularly marks a step forward in medical machinery and radiological science.
The company’s technical ceramics business already develops ceramic grades that are used across a wide range of industries, including medical, aerospace, automotive, industrial and rail sectors. Now, with this additive manufacturing development, it is further advancing the capability of these ceramics and will be looking for customers to partner with for design and testing. Alongside its new 3D printing capability, Morgan will also be showcasing its zirconia for severe environmental conditions, such as petrochemical/CPI, as well as its capabilities in brazing advanced ceramics.
Whether it’s these technologies or others, such as pressure casting, pressing, extrusion, injection molding, isostatic pressing, robot-aided, reductive or optical fabrication, all the latest systems will be revealed at Ceramics Expo. Leading names from across the world have chosen to take part, including Cerinnov, PCL High Pressure Casting, OptiPro, Lingl, Dorst, Laeis, Quintus, EPSI, DMG Mori, ECT-Kema, XJet, CF Extrusion, Starrag, Digital Press, Admatec, and American Isostatic Presses, to name but a few.
User industry technicians, buyers and directors always make sure their trip to Ceramics Expo is booked well in advance since this is a sector that has repeatedly proved to be innovative and highly responsive to their needs. Ceramic components play a vital role in areas such as space/aerospace, medical, automotive, energy, electronics, telecommunications, heat treatment, defense, renewables, oil and gas, and construction.
This includes leading suppliers to the North American market, such as Ceramco Ceramics, an early supporter and repeat participant in Ceramics Expo. Ceramco will spotlight its sintered silicon nitride, which shares many of the same desirable characteristics as its zirconia products, but at approximately 50% less weight. Sintered silicon nitride is extremely hard, making any follow-up machining of components a challenge. Ceramco mitigates the need for this through the use of its near-net shaping process, resulting in components that are close to their final specification while also yielding little waste.
If sometimes the claims associated with ceramic components seem out of this world, well it can be nearer the truth than you think. Exhibitor Lithoz has succeeded in producing finely detailed ceramic parts using simulated lunar regolith as part of an investigation led by the European Space Agency (ESA) into how 3D printing could be used to support a lunar base. ESA confirmed that these parts have the finest print resolution ever achieved with objects made of regolith simulant, demonstrating a high level of print precision and widening the range of potential uses for such items.
The ability to adapt to working with raw regolith, a collection of various different types of oxides (chiefly silicon oxide but also aluminum, calcium and iron oxides), is a breakthrough. “Thanks to our expertise in the additive manufacturing of ceramics, we were able to achieve these results very quickly,” said Johannes Homa, CEO of Lithoz. “We believe there’s a huge potential in ceramic additive manufacturing for the moon.”
If one needs to print tools or machinery components to replace broken parts on a lunar base, precision in the dimensions and shape of the printed items will be vital. As a next step, there will be strength and mechanical properties testing, with the idea that similar components could one day be employed to replace parts on a lunar base without requiring replacements from Earth.
Back on terra firma, Ceramics Expo attendees can be sure of encountering all the big hitters in the field of ceramic and specialty glass components, including names such as Saint-Gobain, CoorsTek, Kyocera, SCHOTT, CeramTec, Morgan, Corning, Materion, McDanel, Blasch, Ceramdis, Akron, Ferrotec, Meggitt, Du-Co, COHO, POCO, Elan, Precision, Goodfellow, TransTech, IPS, and many more.
There is no substitute on the show floor for the opportunity to see products that break technological barriers and offer a new world of possibilities for commercial end use and overall systems improvements. One of these is CeramTec’s transparent ceramic PERLUCOR®, which is a solution for transparent applications in extreme conditions. In a recent project, undertaken in collaboration with German scanner manufacturer DESKO, CeramTec developed a solution for protecting scanners’ glass plates. The relative transparency of the PERLUCOR laminate applied to the glass is more than 90%, ensuring the proper capture of scanning data.
Meanwhile, there will be much to learn from French ceramic 3D printing innovator Nanoe, which provides ready-to-sinter materials such as alumina, zirconia and zirconia-toughened alumina (ZTA). The company recently opened an office in Youngstown, Ohio, which fits with its ambition to evolve into an international and diversified company. With this goal in mind, and having realized that the market for ceramic 3D printing is still very new and swiftly developing, Nanoe launched a new range of Zetamix 3D printing filaments and the Zetaprint FDM 3D printer a few months ago. “We decided to take a different approach and to adapt our raw material to existing machines already on the market in numbers,” said Guillaume de Calan, CEO.
To register or for additional information, visit www.ceramicsexpousa.com.