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What are the Different Types of Ceramics? Which is the Best?

Posted by Chi-Chieh Jacky Chou on

What comes to mind when you hear the word "ceramics," "ceramic pots," or "ceramic plates"? While these are ceramics, other types of ceramics are used in transformers, heating elements, and several other applications. Ceramics are used for more than just cups and pottery.

The term "ceramics" is used in a fairly broad sense. Ceramics refers to any non-metal, non-organic solid in chemistry. As a result, metals such as iron and copper and wood and plastic are ruled out. Instead, other ceramics include materials such as glass, graphite, diamonds, porcelain, and cement.

What are ceramics?

A ceramic is a non-metallic inorganic material composed of metal or non-metal compounds that have been formed and then hardened at very high temperatures. It is a hard ceramic, corrosion-resistant, and brittle in general. The word "ceramic" comes from the Greek word "pottery."

We are all familiar with clay-based home items, art objects, and construction materials, but pottery is only one aspect of the ceramic world. Nowadays, the term "ceramic" has a broader definition, encompassing materials such as glass, advanced ceramics, and some cement systems.

More practical pieces, such as bowls, plates, and pots, are sometimes referred to as pottery. Ceramic is sometimes used to distinguish fine art from decorative pieces with no practical purpose, but both are manufactured in the same technique.

The type of clay used and the temperature at which it's heated yield vastly varied ceramics. Determining which category your ceramic materials belong in can be difficult. There are two main types of ceramics. Pottery or traditional ceramics and advanced or modern ceramics. The list below shows the different types of ceramics and the best for your specific individual needs.

Types of Ceramics

Pottery Ceramics

1. Earthenware

For thousands of years, potters have used ovens to fire earthenware. It was used as amphorae to transport wine and olive oil to the farthest corners of the Roman Empire's territory during its heyday. However, liquids could seep through these vessels, causing commodities like oil to develop rancid with repeated or prolonged use.

Unlike other traditional ceramics like stoneware and porcelain, they can be fired at temperatures as low as 1,200° F. Some earthenware potters varnish their creations to make them watertight. However, you can still scrape and damage it with a knife because of the lower firing temperature. The majority of bricks used in structures nowadays are earthenware, as are terracotta planters and other kitchenware.

For beginning potters, earthenware is a popular choice. Part of its popularity stems from the fact that earthenware clay is often easier to work with and more forgiving. It is, however, less adaptable and delicate than other varieties of pottery.

2. Stoneware

Earthenware is the earliest form of ceramic, followed by stoneware. It takes a long time to fire than earthenware. Most stoneware is fired at temperatures ranging from 2,000° to 2,400° F, hotter than lava from a volcano. Those very high temperatures vitrify the stoneware, turning the glazes on the outside to glass.

Unlike porcelain, which is nearly exclusively white, stoneware can now be made with various clay hues. In addition, for a truly unique twist, various clay colors are mixed into some of the stonewares.

Stonewares are traditional ceramics that are durable, nonporous, and robust. It's tough, stylish, and adaptable, serving everything from a personalized trophy to a baking dish. Under the correct circumstances, it can also withstand the heat from a microwave, dishwasher, or even an oven. In addition, stoneware distributes and maintains heat more evenly than other materials, making it ideal for coffee and tea sipping.

Stonewares are used to create sanitary fixtures like sinks and bathtubs. In the chemical industry, stonewares are also used to make piping vessels, drainage pipes, underground cable sheathings, sewerage pipes, home pipes, absorption towers, valves, and pumps. They are less expensive than many other building materials, but they are fragile and have no resale value once broken.

3. Porcelain

Porcelain was the last type of pottery to make its way to the west, gaining popularity in Europe and North America in the 1700s. In China, it is treasured for its durability and strength for an even longer time. Porcelain was fired at even higher temperatures than stoneware in the past. The final firing temperature was usually around 2,600° F.

Today, the only significant distinction between porcelain and stoneware is that porcelain is almost always made with white clay. Although the white mineral kaolin is frequently used, practically any white clay or bone ash can suffice. On the other hand, kaolin is more difficult to work with and less forgiving than other clays. In today's world, it's also more vulnerable.

Porcelain can also be sculpted into more delicate shapes than earthenware or stoneware by sculptors. Collectors have cherished porcelain since the 18th century, and it has been used to replicate everything from a horse's flowing mane to the folds of fabric on a dress. However, as new technologies and ideas emerge, the distinctions between porcelain and stoneware become increasingly blurred for modern potters.

Advanced Ceramics

1. Bone China

Ceramicists altered the traditional formula by adding powdered bone ash to make bone china, a type of porcelain that is less prone to chipping. In addition, it has an ivory-white look. In today's world, this has taken the place of pure porcelain. Bone China is the most durable form of porcelain.

It also has a high wear resistance to chipping. In addition, it has incredible physical strength and produces a white, translucent outcome in most cases. Bone ash, kaolin, phosphates, and feldspar are all present. Nonetheless, Europe favored German porcelain, although Bone China is popular in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The color of unfired porcelain clay can range from cream to white, whereas bone china is naturally colorless or white. However, they are both white when finished firing and are commonly fired at a higher temperature of 1200 - 1450 degrees Celsius, which is slightly higher than stoneware.

2. Glass Ceramics

It is one of the numerous varieties of ceramics created by regulating crystallization and having qualities similar to glass. Still, with the hardness and strength of ceramics. Glass ceramics are made using cutting-edge manufacturing technology, resulting in materials with desirable properties such as zero porosity, mechanical strength, durability, high temperatures, transparency, and biocompatibility.

This material has excellent chemical resistance and superconductivity. Ceramics of this sort are used to create pieces for cookware, bakeware, and cooktops. In addition, scientific and industrial equipment, as well as medical devices, frequently use this material.

3. Fire Bricks

Bricks are common ceramics as they are frequently created by heating materials that resemble clay, and sand is classified as a ceramic. This type of pottery is found in many homes. The qualities of this ceramic vary greatly depending on how it is made and what it is made of.

This porcelain is robust, brittle, heavy, and can withstand high temperatures in general. Chimneys, fireplaces, and walls are all suitable places to use this ceramic. They're frequently utilized in landscaping as well.

4. Silicon

Silicon is another prominent ceramic material that is generally regarded as superior due to its chemical properties. This type of ceramic is abundant, accounting for around 90% of the earth's crust. Sand And silicon abide frequently used in clays used to produce typical pottery.

For example, silica ceramic is used to make burnt bricks, and kaolinite is used to make porcelain, silicate minerals. Therefore, there is a brittle and rigid crystalline solid as well as a semiconductor in this material.

Exceptional purity solar panels and semiconductor devices such as integrated circuits are made from crystalline silicon, similar to polycrystalline silicon. In addition, high-quality silicon minerals are utilized to produce ceramics, glass, and cement aggregate. As a result, they are the most commonly used raw materials in the construction industry.

5. Silicon Carbide

Other ceramic materials include silicon carbide, a high-quality semiconductor material containing carbon and silicon. It occurs naturally as the extremely uncommon stone moissanite. Silicon carbide ceramic materials are robust and exceedingly hard.

It is a semiconductor that is in over 250 different crystalline materials. Although this ceramic is white by nature, it is frequently tinted by other materials such as iron. In addition, it demonstrates low thermal conductivity.

Cutting tools, furnaces, braking disks, abrasives, heating elements, lighting, and electrical power systems are examples of where this ceramic is used. Because it has the same appearance and hardness as diamonds, the natural form of silicon carbide is coveted as a gem. It is a synthetic zirconia alternative that is harder than zirconia.

6. Titanium Carbide

It is a black-colored heat-resistant, and exceptionally durable form of ceramic. Ceramics are heat-resistant, highly hard, corrosion-resistant, and wear-resistant. These ceramics are commonly used in tool bits, machine parts, heat shields, and watch mechanisms.

7. Tungsten Carbide

It is a hard and dense substance made from identical proportions of carbon and tungsten. Ceramics of this type are thick, hard, durable, strong, and have low electrical resistance. Industrial equipment, cutting tools, and sporting equipment are all available.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ceramics?

Advantages of Ceramics:

  1. Due to their great hardness, they are commonly employed as abrasive powder and cutting tools
  2. They have a high melting point, making them ideal for use as a refractory material
  3. Another reason to utilize them as refractory material is that they are good thermal insulators
  4. They have high electric resistance, making them ideal for use as an insulator
  5. Because of their low mass density, they produce lightweight ceramic components
  6. They are generally chemically inert or corrosion resistant, making them long-lasting
  7. Inexpensive as they are easily accessible
  8. Glazed ceramic is stain-resistant hence durable

Disadvantages of Ceramics:

  1. They have a brittle nature about them
  2. They have very low elasticity
  3. They don't have a lot of tensile strength
  4. Even with identical specimens, there is a broad range of strength variance
  5. They're difficult to manufacture and form
  6. It's tough to keep dimensional tolerances under control throughout processing
  7. Shock resistance is poor as it can crack when hit with heavy objects
  8. The friction coefficient is low

Tips when choosing a ceramic material:

  1. Know the operational environment. It includes the atmosphere, temperature, applied stress, fatigue, exposure time predictable deviations from the norm, mechanical impact, or rapid heating/cooling.
  2. The design as ceramic materials is relatively intolerant of abrupt cross-sections, such as notches, holes, and corners.
  3. The function of the joint, its operational circumstances and performance criteria, and suitable joining procedures for manufacturing.
  4. And lastly, the cost and availability of raw materials and the essential fabrication procedures. They are assessed in light of their appropriateness to deliver a component with the desired performance profile at a sustainable cost and the materials selection and component design problems.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. In what ways is ceramic is a useful material?

Ceramics are manufactured from the earth that has been mixed with water to form a soft play-doh texture that can be molded and fired into various functional objects. There are many clay-based items, including household items, art sculptures, buildings, and even watches. In addition, ceramic artifacts are helpful because they are inexpensive to purchase.

They are manufactured in numerous forms, but while fragile and brittle, they are sturdy products. Kitchenware such as plates, cups, knives, and even ceramic cooktops are popular ceramic products since ceramic is heat resistant and thermoset. In addition, ceramic is presently used in the manufacture of watches and several well-known artworks.

2. When are high-strength ceramics useful?

Ceramics are the strongest in compression, with compressive strength approximately 10 times that of tensile strength. As a result, impurities and faults in ceramics aren't impacted by pressure, yet tensile loading causes defects to proliferate.

3. What are the applications of advanced ceramics?

Advanced ceramic materials are now widely used in several applications, ranging from refrigerator magnets to a growing number of sectors, including metals processing, aerospace, electronics, automotive, and personnel protection. Because of their lightweight, they are used in the space industry, cutting tools, constructing refractory materials, and employing thermal insulation as they have low thermal expansion. Finally, they're employed as insulators in electrical systems.

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