Ceramic CNC Machining: Another Option for Custom Manufacturing

Still undecided about the best manufacturing process for your part production? Ceramic CNC machining might just be the solution. Find out why.

Leon Huang: Rapid Direct Author

Ceramic CNC Machining: Another Option for Custom Manufacturing

It could be quite a cumbersome task to choose the best material for your manufacturing process at times. Due to the specific properties that ceramics possess, they could be just the materials you need.  Potters widely use ceramics to manufacture bricks, pottery, knives, and even clocks, among others. Although potters used to make ceramics using a kiln, manufacturers are taking a step further to modernize the Ceramic CNC machining process by adopting the machining method, which provides you with better designs plus a smooth finish.

Due to their different forms and designs, machining ceramic parts may be a little challenging. However, you can effectively manage the challenges by understanding the machining processes and the kind of ceramics to design. Thus, here, you’ll learn the different applications of ceramics, their characteristics, and their machining process, among others. Now, let’s get started.

Ceramics Parts Application

Machinists have used CNC ceramic machining to provide a lot of products in different industries with high success. This is the durability and excellent hardness properties. Examples of some industries CNC ceramic machining has importance include:

1. Medical Applications

Machinists have used this manufacturing process to make many products such as bioceramics. Health professionals can use these special types of ceramics as implants in the body without any type of adverse reaction occurring. Another area health professionals use them is in dental applications. Machinists make dental implants using ceramics such as zirconia. These dental implants are quite long-lasting thanks to their high wear resistance.

2. Industrial Applications

Ceramic CNC machining has also found success in areas where machinists need to make complex, high-precision industrial parts. Parts made from ceramics also have high wear resistance which makes them an easy target for parts meant to last for a while.

3. Electronic Applications

Machinists also use ceramic CNC machining for different electrical parts which require a high level of complexity and wear resistance. Due to its electrical insulating properties, it even makes it a better candidate to prevent electrical hazards.

Characteristics of Ceramics

Like every other material, ceramics also have incredible characteristics that stand them out. We’ll expatiate on some of the advantages and disadvantages that ceramics possess due to its characteristics. They include:

Pros of Ceramics

  1. Electrical insulator: ceramics are great electrical insulators, and for this reason, they’ve found their uses in insulating critical wires and components. They provide better electrical insulation than most of the other insulating materials used.
  2. Thermal Insulation: ceramics can withstand a very high temperature.
  3. Durability: ceramics don’t get damaged easily. They’re long-lasting and hard-wearing. They can withstand repeated and extreme thermal cycling and friction. This is why they are suitable for machine parts that require friction.
  4. Chemically Inert: they are chemically inert; thus, they are resistant to corrosion. Since ceramics are unreactive to other chemicals, they protect sensitive instruments from contamination.
  5. Excellent hardness and strength: Ceramics are known for their incredible hardness and strength. They have great strength to density ratios compared to most modern engineering alloys.
  6. Affordable: Ceramics are cheaper than several other materials depending on the application. For instance, installing ceramic tiles is less expensive than carpet or hardwood flooring.
  7. Colour: Ceramics hold colour for a more extended period compared to other materials like cement and stone. If you paint a ceramic material, the colour will stick to the surfaces and remain unwashed for years to come. This is why many prefer to use it for interior decorations like wall and floor to maintain a bright colouration for years.
  8. Easy to clean: Ceramics does not retain the residues and smells of foods, beverages, and chemicals. They are stain-resistant and very easy to clean. Thus, they are good options for bathroom flooring, kitchen flooring, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Cons of Ceramics

  1. Low shear and tensile strength: Ceramics strength is lower than those of metals. Thus, in places where high tensile strength is required, metals are usually preferred.
  2. High Brittleness: Ceramics are brittle and have very low ductility compared to metals. The low ductility of ceramics is due to their covalent and ionic bonds, which are very strong bonds that only bond in a specific direction. Therefore, ceramics can crack when hit with heavy objects, and that may result in permanent damage.
  3. Controlling the dimensional tolerances of ceramics during processing is difficult.

Technical Ceramic Materials

Technical ceramics materials are used in product manufacturing to make the product lighter, more durable, more efficient, reduce maintenance intervals, and reduce the product’s operating costs. Machinists use these materials as a replacement for metals, refractory materials, and polymers. They owe this to their ability to withstand a high temperature, super hardness feature, and excellent electrical insulation.

The following are some of the technical ceramic materials used for ceramic cnc machining:

  1. Shapal Hi-M Soft (Machinable Aluminum Nitride): This hybrid type of Aluminum Nitride (AlN) ceramic is known for offering high thermal conductivity and mechanical strength.
shapal-hi-m-soft
Shapal Hi-M Soft
  1. Boron Nitride (BN): Unlike other traditional ceramic materials, BN is an advanced synthetic ceramic material with a very high thermal conductivity. This material comes in solid and powdered form.
  2. CeramaSil-N (Silicon Nitride): This is one of the most versatile of all technical ceramics materials. It is outstanding for having a combination of thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties.
silicon-nitride
Silicon Nitride
  1. Zirconia: Zirconia stands out from traditional ceramics, which are hard and brittle. It offers high flexibility, high strength, and wear resistance.
zirconia-ceramics
Zirconia Ceramics
  1. DuraWear (Boron Carbide & Silicon Carbide Composite): This ceramic machining material is also known as a black diamond for its black colour and superb hardness. Machinists rank it behind diamond and cubic boron nitride as the third hardest material. Therefore, it is an important material used for many high-performance applications where extra hardness is required.

Designing and Machining Ceramics

There are specific intrinsic properties of ceramics you must consider when designing a product. Remember that ceramics are very brittle; hence they can break easily. It is, therefore, crucial to avoid stress from concentrating on just a particular point. The following tips will help with your CNC ceramic machining:

  1. Convert tensile stress into compression stress: this will give the material the ability to absorb more stress without breaking.
  2. Avoid long, pointed edges.
  3. Use modular design.
tips-for-ceramic-designing-and-machining
Tips for ceramic designing and machining
  1. Use round designs instead of oval designs.
  2. Instead of using sharp internal corners, use corner radius or corner pockets.
  3. Ensure hole distances aren’t too close.
tips-for-ceramic-designing-and-machining
Tips for ceramic machining and designing
  1. Avoid sudden cross-section changes.
  2. Instead of using complicated wall designs and shapes, use simple ones.
  3. Use round inside and breakthroughs instead of corners and sharp edges.

RapidDirect CNC Ceramic Machining

rapiddirect-home-page
RapidDirect home page

Do you care to have quality ceramics parts and products on-demand without delay? Then, relax because you are in the right place. RapidDirect is a reliable firm offering high quality, on-demand rapid manufacturing services for custom parts prototyping and product manufacturing.

We understand that you want excellent ceramic cnc machining services at the best possible price; thus, we offer precisely that. If you deal with us, we’ll provide you with the quality service that you crave without having to break your bank.

At RapidDirect, we know how well you value time; therefore, we will provide you with online instant quoting without wasting time coming to our company. With us, you don’t need to email back-and-forth to get your project done. All you have to do is to upload your design files, select the materials and surface finish you need, and immediately, you’ll get an accurate and competitive CNC quotation in real-time.

We provide cost-effective prototype and production machining services with faster lead time. Therefore, once we give you a project completion date, we’ll ensure you get the products at the required time. Our factories are well equipped with every necessary machine needed to handle your project. We possess 200 sets of 3, 4, and 5-axis CNC machines and a wide range of auxiliaries in China. We also have live tooling available for complex projects.

Conclusion

The use of ceramics extends to various industries due to their durability, hardness and strength, and chemically unreactive, among other features. Manufacturers use them in biomedical, aerospace, and electronic industries. However, as good as ceramics are, like every other material, they also have their cons such as high brittleness, poor shear and tensile strength. Nevertheless, you can control this if you follow the right steps and tips during the ceramic CNC machining process.

FAQs

Q: How are ceramics made?

A: Manufacturers make ceramics with a mixture of clay, powders, earthen elements, and water. They shape the mixture to desired forms. Once the ceramic obtains its shape, the potters expose it to a high-temperature oven called a kiln to dry up. They then cover it in suitable decorative designs.

Q: Why are ceramics brittle?

A: Ceramics are brittle because of their chemical bonds. The atoms of ceramics are chemically bonded together by ionic and covalent bonds, which are stable bonds that only bond in a particular direction.

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