Insights from industry

Introduction To Technical Ceramics

H.C. Starck Ceramics CEO Dr. Carsten Russner gives an introduction to technical ceramics and how H.C. Starck is involved within this industry.  

Could you please provide a brief introduction to H.C. Starck Ceramics and the sector that you work within?

With our years of experience in the development of high-performance ceramics, H.C. Starck Ceramics is equipped to meet any number of challenges in the field of non-oxide ceramics (SSiC, SiSiC, Si3N4) and oxide ceramics (ZrO2, Al2O3, Al2TiO5). Some of the main application areas of our worldwide customers include:

  • semiconductor and mechanical engineering
  • foundry technology
  • medical technology

Through flexible production processes in shaping (green machining) and sintering technology (for example silicon nitride: 10 bar, 100 bar, 2000 bar), we can adjust our products according to client requirements in specifications such as component size (silicon nitride up to 1800 mm) or electric conductivity.

The extraordinary versatility of ceramic products comes as a result of their unique qualities, making them superior to other materials in several ways.

Could you please explain in more detail how you define the term ‘technical ceramics’?

Technical ceramics, also known as high-performance or engineering ceramics, are inorganic ceramic materials whose combination of physical and thermal properties makes them the right choice for applications where other materials fail.

They open up new possibilities for mechanical and plant engineering, foundries, automotive manufacturing, textile manufacturing, electronics, and medical technology.

How do these compare to other materials that may be used in similar applications, such as steel?

Technical ceramics are nonmetallic and offer many benefits, including a lower density than steel, high chemical resistance, hardness and strength, and very good resistance to thermal shock.

Especially in applications involving wear, corrosion, and high-temperature challenges, ceramic components provide a longer service life and sustained cost-efficiency in processes.

What are the main oxide and non-oxide ceramics that you can work with for clients?

The non-oxide ceramics we work with include various forms of silicon nitride (Si3N4 - StarCeram® N 3000/7000/8000/Grade E) and silicon carbide (SIC - StarCeram® Si, StarCeram® S).

In terms of oxide ceramics, we predominantly work with alumina oxide (Al2O3 - StarCeram® A), alumina titanate (ATi/Al2TiO5 - StarCeram® AT) and yttrium stabilized zirconia oxide (Zr2O3 - StarCeram® Z, StarCeram® Z-Al),

Could you describe your ‘green machining’ processes in more detail?

The first step in ceramic production is the pressing process. Here, the ceramic powder is pressed in a form that is near net shape - for example, you form a tube if you need rings.

After that, the tube goes to the green machining department and there the cylinder is cut into the rings with all the heels and boreholes that are needed.

In this stadium the ceramic part isn’t sintered yet, so it is called “green”.

In the green machining process we are able to drill and mill all our materials (oxide and non-oxide ceramics) near the end shape in our integrated production process.

Could you describe some of the key products that you supply for the medical industry? What are the key benefits of these?

Our main products for the medical industry are pressed and presintered blanks and discs made of zirconium oxide for the dental industry for crowns and bridges. More details on this can be found at the following link:

What are some of the other important products that you supply for engineering applications?

It is important to note that we strive to offer solutions, not just products. That means one of our core USP is that we provide experienced application engineers to support our customers solving their technical challenges.

H.C. Starck Ceramics provides technical advanced solutions for different parts of the engineering and chemical industry such as:

Solutions for high temperature applications (foundry)

  • Riser Tubes
  • Dose Bushes and Pistons
  • Dosing Tubes
  • Bearing Bushes and Protection Sleeves
  • Thermocouple Protection Tubes
  • Immersion Heater Tubes
  • Thermo Protection Tubes

Wear protection parts e.g. for machining or pump industry

  • Protection Sleeves
  • Cylinder Linings
  • Dose Bushes and Pistons
  • Forming Rolls
  • Extruder Screws
  • Sealing Faces
  • Guide Rolls
  • Immersion Heater Tubes
  • Mill Linings
  • Nozzles
  • Rotors
  • Stationary Seats
  • Sprue Bushings
  • Bearing Bushes

Inherently stable products for high-precision applications e.g. semiconductor, photovoltaic

  • Mirror Bases
  • Wafer Chucks
  • Mirror Holder
  • Wafer Carrier
  • Frames for Objectives and Measurement

Do you see your ceramic products being utilized in more industries in the future?

Yes, the requirements from the end user for plant and machinery are growing from year to year. Therefore design engineers are forced to use materials like technical ceramics to solve all the requirements and demands. Some of these industries are:

  • Optical industry
  • Nanotechnologies
  • Automotive

About Dr. Carsten Russner

Dr. Carsten Russner

H.C. Starck Ceramics CEO Dr. Carsten Russner has comprehensive professional experience in the field of advanced ceramics.

Over the course of two decades, he held numerous management positions at several leading companies in the advanced ceramics industry, including in Research and Development, Production Technology and Planning, Process Innovation, Systems Technology, and Business Development.

Carsten Russner studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich (Germany), and subsequently began his career while simultaneously pursuing a second degree in Quality Assurance Engineering at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (Germany).

Afterwards, he successfully earned a doctorate degree from the TU Dresden (Germany).



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G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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