The Advantages and Applications of Macor® Machinable Glass Ceramic by Precision Ceramics

Macor is a machinable glass ceramic originally developed and manufactured in the US by Corning Incorporated and has long been recognized universally as a major technical innovation. It provides an ideal solution for a range of applications in a variety of industries.

For more than 20 years, Precision Ceramics has been the principal distributor of Macor in the UK and has extensive experience in all aspects of this product, including its uses, applications and unique properties.

Macor Components in British Aerospace

In one of its initial projects, Precision Ceramics had designed and developed a number of complex Macor components for Concorde engine management system at British Aerospace. Here, low thermal conductivity, high temperature, and outstanding electrical insulator properties ensured the high performance and reliability needed for such a specialist application.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis in orbit around the earth on its final mission in July 2011.

Figure 1. The Space Shuttle Atlantis in orbit around the earth on its final mission in July 2011.

In addition, Macor was the preferred choice of material in a similar application for British Aerospace’s Tornado GR4 all-weather attack aircraft which is still being deployed by a number of RAF Squadrons across the UK. Macor was also utilized as a base material for a range of highly complex components in the US Space Shuttle programme between 1972 and 2011 (Figure 1)

Unique Properties of Macor

Macor has high dielectric strength, high electrical resistivity and excellent physical properties. It is non- porous and non-shrinking, tolerates high temperatures, and has tight tolerance capability. The material can be easily machined into the most intricate shapes using traditional metalworking tools and allows a fast turnaround time from design to delivery. When compared with other technical ceramics, Macor has substantially lower costs.

The unique properties of Macor enable even the most complex of components to be easily machined using normal metalworking tools.

Figure 2. The unique properties of Macor enable even the most complex of components to be easily machined using normal metalworking tools.

Macor machinable glass is ideal for prototyping and large production runs. It is strong and rugged and can be machined using ordinary metalworking tools (Figure 2). Unlike high temperature plastics, the material does not deform or creep and requires no firing after machining. Macor is characterized by low thermal conductivity and excellent dimensional stability in a variety of environments, making it useful as a high temperature insulator. It has zero porosity, does not outgas in vacuum environment, and has very tight machining tolerances up to 0.013mm. Its coefficient of thermal expansion matches most sealing glasses and metals.

With peak temperature of 1000°C and continuous use temperature of 800°C, Macor can have a surface finish of less than 20µm and can be polished to a smoothness of 0.5µin. it is resistant to radiation and is excellent with high voltages and a broad spectrum of frequencies. Additionally, Macor can be thin or thick film brazed, metallized, epoxy and frit bonded.

Typical Applications of Macor

Typical applications for Macor include laser applications - spacers, reflectors and cavities in laser assemblies; electronics/semiconductors - precision coil formers and high voltage insulators; high vacuum applications - thermal breaks in high temperature processing equipment, vacuum feed-throughs and coil supports; nuclear industry - reference blocks and fixtures in power generation units; and aerospace/space industry - retaining rings on doors, windows and hinges of NASA’s Space Shuttle supports and components in a number of satellite borne systems.

Conclusion

Macor is a unique machinable glass ceramic that provides a suitable solution for a wide range of applications in a variety of industries. This machinable glass is the perfect material for prototyping and large production runs.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Precision Ceramics.

For more information on this source, please visit Precision Ceramics.

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