Silicate and refractory ceramics in the Faculty of Materials Engineering

Prof. Bastian Raab

Ceramic materials are all solid, predominantly crystalline, and water-resistant compounds. Silicate ceramics are ceramic materials with an SiO2 content of more than 20%; of these, the best-known everyday ceramic is porcelain. But, there are many other technical silicate ceramic products such as steatite, which is used as an electrical insulation material due to its excellent dielectric strength, or cordierite, which is used as a catalyst support in motor vehicles due to its low expansion coefficient. In addition, refractory ceramics enable other materials to be processed at high temperatures (such as in steel processing).

Students who take Technology of Materials IV as part of the bachelor’s degree programme in Materials Engineering will cover the basics of production using different manufacturing processes, from raw materials to temperature treatment, from the drying and sintering process to the finished product.

In the Silicate and Refractory Ceramics specialization, students cover the respective test methods. The corresponding practicals see students using the two typical manufacturing processes for silicate ceramics: traditional slipcasting; and dry pressing used for modern production. The aim is to work through the manufacturing process from raw material to finished product and to document and test the different production stages in order to gain an understanding of the production and application of ceramics.

In the master’s degree programme, students discuss special types of porcelain and other technical ceramics. This programme also includes specific demonstrations of the factors that have an impact on the finished product, such as the choice of raw materials or manufacturing process parameters. This should, for example, allow students to gain an insight into the optimization process for a ceramic product.