Silicon Nitride and Zirconia for Welding Applications

In welding operations such as plasma welding, orbital welding, and resistance welding, components with good properties must be used. International Syalons, a leading manufacturer of advanced technical ceramics, develops a wide range of ceramic components made from zirconia and silicon nitride.

Image Credit: Ake Apichai Chumsri

In commercial and automotive vehicle assemblies, control pins and weld locations are used in resistance welding of captive nuts. International Syalons offers a wide range of these components in zirconia and silicon nitride.

In addition, the company manufactures an extensive range of welding jigs, nozzles, fixtures, and shrouds, which can be used in plasma welding, orbital welding, induction welding, metal inert gas (MIG) welding, and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding operations.

Syalon 101 and Zircalon

Syalon 101, a specific grade of silicon nitride (Figure 1), has excellent mechanical, thermal, and wear resistant properties, which means it is not affected by thermal shock and thermal cycling stresses produced during the welding process. Syalon 101 has high strength, hardness, and toughness and hence is less sensitive to mechanical damage when compared to other ceramics.

These properties provide an improved life expectancy. Furthermore, Syalon 101 is resistant to weld spatter, which tends to reduce production downtime during the cleaning process. It is also electrically insulating, which is essential for resistance welding.

Syalon 101

Figure 1. Syalon 101

Zircalon is an advanced yttria stabilized zirconia, similar to Syalon 101, is electrically insulating. Although Zircalon does not match Syalon 101 in terms of thermal behaviour, it has greater toughness and excellent wear resistant properties. This ceramic is more suitable for applications where impact is likely.

Weld Location Pins – Case Histories

For over three decades, International Syalons has been producing and supplying weld location pins (Figure 2) for various industrial applications. Collaboration between the company’s technical team and end users have allowed many common welding problems to be solved.

Weld location pins

Figure 2. Weld location pins

One typical case involved Nissan Manufacturing based in Sunderland. The company faced a serious problem at one of the rear axle manufacturing lines, which required significant level of downtime to substitute the stub axle bearing housing location pin.

This housing needed precise repeatable positioning inside the rear axle perform, with high integrity, high definition weld. With the advent of Syalon 101, International Syalons were able to provide a pin that has since performed exceedingly well in over 100,000 operations.

Steel pins were used by a major European manufacturer to weld captive nuts to vehicle chassis. The pins performed approximately 70,000 operations prior to failure. However, production times were rather slow because of constant cleaning of the pins. In contrast, Syalon 101 pins have performed in excess of 7 million operations without any damage or wear.

Welding Jigs and Fixtures – Case Histories

International Syalons develops a wide range of welding jigs and fixtures for different welding operations. In orbital welding operation, Syalon 101 gas shrouds were able to provide hundred-fold increases over traditional materials when joining aircraft fuel manifold inlet tubes.

In plasma welding, Syalon 101 nozzles were found to be more durable than that of alumina nozzles. Also, in the TIG welding of steel tubes in heat exchanger cores, nozzles made of Syalon 101 lasted longer than alumina nozzles by a factor of 10 to 1.


International Syalons stocks a wide range of components made from zirconia and silicon nitride. These advanced ceramic components are more durable and long-lasting when compared to other conventional materials, and are suitable for a wide range of welding operations.

About International Syalons

Company Background

With over thirty years experience in the production and development of advanced technical ceramics, International Syalons are experts in the field. We are the UK's leading manufacturer of sialon and silicon nitride based ceramics.

Sialon Materials

Sialons are amongst the strongest and most durable ceramics known. They will survive in even the most arduous industrial environments, in diverse applications in the oil/gas, molten metal handling, metal forming, industrial wear and chemical/process industries.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by International Syalons.

For more information on this source, please visit International Syalons.


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