HIGH STRENGTH ZIRCONIA -THE CERAMIC STEELPosted on Friday 3rd September 2021 by Chris BellUnlike traditional ceramics that tend to be hard and brittle, Zirconia (ZrO2) has high strength, wear resistance and a flexibility far beyond those of most other technical ceramics.Zirconia (ZrO2) also has excellent corrosion and chemical resistance without the characteristic technical ceramic property of absolute brittleness. It has the highest strength and toughness at room temperature of all advanced ceramic materials and in recent years has quite rightfully earned the title of ‘Ceramic Steel’Pure zirconia exists in three crystal phases at different temperatures – Cubic, Tetragonal and Monoclinic. The fine grain size allows the material to have extremely smooth surfaces and sharp edges.During production a number of different oxides can be dissolved into the zirconia crystal structure to prevent and control structural changes. These include Yttria, Magnesia and Ceria.Among many other applications, Zirconia (ZrO2) based ceramics can be used as tools for wire forming, as auxiliaries in welding processes, as materials for crowns and bridges in the dental industry, as insulating rings in thermal processes and as oxygen measurement cells. They have now been developed to the stage where the infinite design of micro structure is possible by control of composition, fabrication route, thermal treatment and final machining.Principal PropertiesHigh strength and high fracture toughnessHigh hardness and wear resistanceHigh densityHigh temperature capability up to 2,400ºCGood frictional behaviourNon-magneticElectrical insulationLow thermal conductivityGood chemical resistanceModulus of elasticity similar to steelCoefficient of thermal expansion similar to ironTypical ApplicationsPrecision ball valve (balls and seats)Pump seals,Valves and impellorsHigh density grinding mediaOxygen sensorsThread guidesFuel cell membranesCutting bladesRadio frequency heating susceptorsMedical prosthesesMetrology componentsMetal FormingGearsBushesBearingsDrive ShaftsZirconia (ZrO2) Component ManufactureSmall batch production of zirconia does depend on the geometry of the component. There are three general processing routes:Precision grind a general blank of zirconiaLaser cut a zirconia substrateInjection mouldingFor higher quantities, Zirconia (ZrO2) lends itself to the injection moulding process rather well. Expensive tooling is required but a high degree of dimensional accuracy can be achieved.Laser cutting zirconia is also a relatively straight forward process. The limits on thickness that a laser can go through is typically 1mm. Zirconia (ZrO2) in this form is widely used throughout the electronics industry.Precision Ceramics has over 20 years’ experience of developing high-quality technical ceramic parts and components for applications in an ever-widening field of applications. Our highly-experienced team of engineers and operators combined with our in-depth ceramic material knowledge and ultra-precise machining centres allow us offer the most advanced technical ceramic solutions for our customers at the most competitive prices.Introducing CeramaZirc Ultra Tough …Precision Ceramics has developed it’s own ‘CeramaZirc Ultra Tough’ which is an advanced zirconia-based ceramic composite material based on partially stabilised zirconia (ZrO2) and alumina platelets. It is the latest and toughest composite to be introduced by Precision Ceramics.Use temperatures up to 1500°CSintered to full density for a pore free structure and competitive priceNo compromise between bending strength, hardness and fracture toughnessRemarkably high fracture toughness and impact resistance while maintaining above average values for bending strength and hardnessToughening by crack deflection provided by a unique microstructure in a partially stabilised zirconia matrixIncreased resistance to hydrothermal ageing through Ceria partial stabilisationInterested in finding out more and if this material is the right fit for your application? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.