Advanced Processing of Silicon Nitride Ceramics
The results of a study designed to improve the mechanical strength and reliability of structural silicon nitride components are reported. The objective of the study was to eliminate the frequently found metallic inclusions that originate from the abrasive wear that occurs in processing this hard material in metallic equipment and which adversely affects the material properties. The feasibility of replacing metals with polymeric materials in equipment where substantive wear occurs was addressed. The data showed that it is possible to successfully compound silicon nitride with injection molding binders in a three-way oval orbital mixing chamber, realizing melt index viscosities required for shaping of complex components. Furthermore, engineering plastics were identified which have the requisite combination of properties (such as abrasion and erosion resistance, thermal stability, and cost) to make them suitable for components of an injection molding machine. Initial evaluation results showed excellent wear resistance and greatly reduced metallic inclusions in the molded components.
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