Unlike 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.
In the production process, various oxides such as Yttria, Magnesia, and Ceria can be incorporated into the zirconia crystal structure to prevent and regulate structural changes. This innovative approach has paved the way for diverse applications of zirconia-based ceramics. These applications range from wire forming tools and auxiliary components in welding processes to materials for dental crowns and bridges. Additionally, zirconia ceramics find utility as insulating rings in thermal processes and oxygen measurement cells. Remarkably, advancements in their production techniques have enabled precise control over the composition, fabrication methods, thermal treatments, and final machining processes, allowing for infinite possibilities in designing intricate microstructures.
Properties of the material include exceptional strength and fracture toughness, along with high hardness and wear resistance. It boasts a substantial density and maintains stability even at high temperatures, reaching up to 2,400ºC. Additionally, the material exhibits favorable frictional behavior, is non-magnetic, and provides electrical insulation. Its low thermal conductivity makes it suitable for various applications, coupled with impressive chemical resistance. Notably, it shares a modulus of elasticity comparable to steel and a coefficient of thermal expansion similar to iron, making it a versatile choice for diverse industrial uses.
This material finds its way into a wide array of applications, ranging from precision ball valve components like balls and seats to pump seals and various types of valves and impellers. Its high density makes it ideal for grinding media, and it’s crucial in the production of oxygen sensors and thread guides. Additionally, the material is employed in the manufacturing of fuel cell membranes, cutting blades, and radio frequency heating susceptors. Its versatility extends to the medical field, where it’s utilized in the creation of prostheses, and in metrology components for precise measurements. Moreover, it plays a vital role in metal forming processes, gears, bushes, bearings, and drive shafts, showcasing its significance across multiple industries.
Zirconia Component Manufacturing
Manufacturing zirconia (ZrO2) components involves several distinct methods, with the choice depending on the component’s geometry and required quantity. Small batch production options include precision grinding a general zirconia blank, laser cutting a zirconia substrate, or utilizing injection molding techniques. For larger quantities, injection molding is particularly suitable, despite the need for costly tooling, as it offers high dimensional accuracy.
Laser cutting zirconia, a relatively straightforward process, is limited by the thickness it can penetrate, usually up to 1mm. This form of zirconia finds extensive use in the electronics industry due to its precision and reliability.
With over two decades of experience, Precision Ceramics specializes in developing high-quality technical ceramic parts for a wide range of applications. Their skilled team of engineers and operators, combined with extensive knowledge of ceramic materials and state-of-the-art machining centers, enables them to provide advanced technical ceramic solutions at competitive prices.
If you’re considering zirconia for your application and need guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Precision Ceramics can offer expert advice to help you determine if this material is the right fit for your specific needs.