Achieving Quality Surface Finishing for Technical Ceramic Materials

Advanced technical ceramic materials have been transformative in society to the extent that their presence often goes unnoticed. They are present in the control systems and sensors of cars, as well as in phones, computers, and touchpads.

The energy and water that society uses daily benefit from ceramic technologies as they can withstand the mechanical stresses and extreme temperatures involved in energy generation applications in power plant engines and turbines. This contributes to better productivity and efficiency.

The unique properties possessed by these ceramic components mean that they present a challenge when machining them to final geometries. Many are produced from the same material that historically would have been used to lap and polish them, typically silicon carbide and aluminum oxide.

This gave rise to a challenge that Kemet International was among the first to tackle, with its Kemet lapping plate material, diamond compounds, and slurries.

First developed in the early 1970s, this combination of diamond abrasives and composite lapping plate significantly improved the efficiency of lapping and polishing of ceramic materials, enabling 100% quality control as a by-product of the highly reflective surfaces that this process combination was able to achieve.

Prior to this breakthrough, Boron Carbide had been the sole option for lapping ceramic materials. This was very expensive and incredibly dirty, producing a non-reflective surface that is impossible to measure optically.

There is continuous development in the design and manufacturing processes of advanced materials, aiming to ensure low cost, high performance, longer life cycles, and related properties. Among the most demanding advanced materials are polymer matrix composites (PMCs), metal matrix composites (MMCs), ceramics matrix composites (CMCs), and several others.

In addition to these composites, there are numerous advanced materials for specialized applications. Kemet has a complete process program. This includes Kemet composite plates for specific types of ceramics, diamond slurries for both twin plate and open face lapping systems, and specially formulated cast iron plates.

More recent applications like ceramic coatings on aerospace bearing assemblies have made it necessary to develop special purpose machines and process consumables – one of the additional technical services offered by Kemet.

White alumina-based ceramics can be complicated to clean after polishing or lapping, particularly when cast iron has been used as a lapping tool. The metal particles and oils will typically contaminate the surface of these components, and it can be almost impossible to return the parts to their original pure white appearance unless the correct cleaning chemistry is used.

In such a case, Kemet's Cleaning Division can provide turnkey process and equipment solutions for small batches or thousands of parts, each solution specially tailored for a specific business’s needs.

The example parts displayed below were lapping test trials in which it was necessary to remove the silver coating from ceramic piezo rings. Kemet was able to reduce the parallel figure of the parts from 0.009 µm to 0.004 µm during the lapping and polishing stages.

Achieving Quality Surface Finishing for Technical Ceramic Materials

Image Credit: Kemet International Ltd

Contact Kemet for a free trial with no obligation to help put concerns regarding a ceramic processing application to rest.

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

For more information on this source, please visit Kemet International Ltd.

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