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Thread: ceramics

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014



    First post here. Complete hobbyist, so completely clueless. Hopefully I know enough to at least ask the right questions.

    I am interested in learning how to make items out of ceramics. Specifically Zirconia and Silicon Nitrate based. I found a few youtube videos outlining the process but from there, I'm lost to next steps.
    Some questions.
    1) Where would I buy the materials? A quick google search didnt really reveal information I could understand
    2) What type of equipment is generally needed for making largish parts (bbq grill, engine parts, etc)
    3) What would be the equivalent of the local machine shop where I could pick up knowledge, have items professionally made, etc. If it helps I'm typically in the Dallas area, but range all over the US.
    4) can anyone recommend any books or would this be something better suited for me to try to take a course at a local local community college or something.

    Thank you for any information.


  2. #2
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: ceramics

    In their sintered state, these advanced ceramics are extremely hard materials, and machining them requires specialized and expensive machinery, far outside the range of the average hobbyist. Machining them when hard is a very tedious grinding process requiring expensive diamond tooling. Even machining them in their green (unfired) state requires machinery that's been specially adapted to shield it from the abrasive slurry and grit that the machining process generates. I suppose you could build bellows for a normal router or mill and attempt to make a BBQ grill that way, but setting up the kiln to fire them to the high temperatures required could be daunting. Here's an article that talks about a shop that does this sort of thing: How One Shop Machines Advanced Ceramics : Modern Machine Shop You'd need to hit those high tolerances to make functional engines, not so much for the grill.

    As for your questions:

    1: Here's a supplier for zirconium powder: Zirconium Oxide ZrO2 | AMERICAN ELEMENTS

    2: The article above talks about the equipment that's used.

    3: There aren't too many machine shops that deal with this stuff. It's a pretty specialized field. Here's a company that does it in California ORTECH CERAMICS - Advanced Ceramic Manufacturer Here's one in PA: Precision Machining Services | CNC Machining Services Company | Ceramic Medical Devices - Kadco Ceramics If you're going to one of these places, you might try to arrange a field trip.

    4: Since this is a fairly technical field, you'd probably going to have to take a whole raft of prerequisite engineering and materials science classes to get into a class on advanced ceramics processing, assuming that your local community college offers one. Similarly, any books on the subject (except maybe "Advanced Ceramics Machining for Dummies") are going to be pretty dense as well.

    But I don't want to discourage you entirely; lots of people go out and do things that people tell them can't be done. It's not impossible; it's just difficult. f you do manage to set this up in your garage or whatever, please let us know how you managed it, okay?
    Andrew Werby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Re: ceramics

    Thank you for your detailed reply, it was greatly appreciated.

    It seems like ceramics and powdered metal (another fascination of mine), seem to utilize many of the same techniques. I think one of the biggest tricks would be to reduce the amount of machining required after the item is sintered, because it seems like the post sintering machine work can be expensive (diamond grinding, etc)

    Hot Isostatic Pressing seems like the magical solution, but as you suggest, likely outside the realm of a hobby person.

    I saw Silicon Carbide items fabricated using Injection Molding (low pressure injection molding I think it was called), again pretty specialized machines, but possibly more attainable than other items.

    I'll need to think on this some. Low precision parts certainly seem more attainable than high precision ones.

  4. #4
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