The term "ceramic tube" refers to any hollow and cylindrical product fabricated from a ceramic. Ceramics are solid, inorganic, nonmetallic materials made up of metal, metalloid or nonmetal atoms. Ceramic creation has been around for thousands of years, starting back when people mixed clay with materials like silica, hand-shaped them and hardened them in the fire to create pottery. Today, the basic concept of ceramic creation remains intact. The only major change has been the materials selected; just a few of the raw materials used to create ceramics today include zirconia, silicon carbide and aluminum oxide. Tube manufacturers take advantage of the various qualities of these mixtures in order to create ceramic tubes, which are known for their ability to resist hazards such as impact, erosion, high temperatures and electric shock. Because of their strength, they are routinely used as components of equipment like furnaces, degassers, fuses and hydraulic pump systems.
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Advantages of Ceramic Tubing
In addition to the features mentioned above, ceramic tubing is also electrically non-conductive, resistant to abrasion, resistant to compressive force and resistant to thermal shock. These characteristics increase their possible applications tenfold. Their electrical non-conductivity, for example, allows them to be adapted as insulators, channels through which electrical wires are passed and capacitors. Because they are abrasion resistant, they can be used as tubes through which abrasive materials pass, such as blasting equipment. Their resistance to compressive force and thermal shock make ceramic tubes excellent candidates for the most high-stress and high-pressure applications, including those in aerospace, military and defense and deep sea missions. Some ceramic tubes are also porous, meaning that they work well with certain specialized telecommunications applications.
Ceramic Tubing Disadvantages
The one weakness of ceramic tubing is shear force. Therefore, in order to avoid damage, those using ceramic tubes should be careful to not subject them to the excessive tension or angular force. Ceramic tubes are powerful and well worth the investment. To find out more, reach out to an experienced ceramic tube manufacturer with your questions.
Materials Used in Ceramic Tubes
Zirconia, also known as zirconium dioxide, is a white, crystalline oxide of zirconium. (Zirconium is mostly extracted from the silicate element zircon, which is found primarily in the United States, Brazil, Australia, Russia, India and South Africa.) Zirconia is chemically inert, extremely hard and a good insulator. In addition to ceramic tubes, it is used in insulation, enamels and abrasives. It is also used as a refractory material and as a protective coating. Silicon carbide is a ceramic product also known as carborundum. Composed of silicon and carbon atoms bonded in a crystal lattice, it has high thermal shock resistance, low density, low thermal expansion and it is extremely hard. It is not harmed by molten salts, alkalis or acids, nor is it chemically active. Aluminum oxide, composed of a combination of aluminum and oxygen, occurs naturally, most often as a crystalline form of the compound corundum. When it is found with gem quality, the corundum manifests as sapphire or ruby. Aluminum oxide is resistant to weathering, resistant to compressive strength, resistant to chemicals, extremely hard and durable, highly dense and stiff, electrically insulating, vastly thermally conductive and highly dense. In addition to zirconia, silicon carbide and aluminum oxide, materials that may be used to make ceramic tubes include aluminum nitride, aluminum silicate, silicon nitride, boron carbide and boron nitride, among others.
Fabrication of Ceramic Tubes
- Tube Extrusion
- Ceramic tubes may be fabricated in a number of ways, however, the most widely used method of ceramic tube fabrication is extrusion. Tube extrusion is valued for its ability to produce uniform goods, its high efficiency and the ability of extrusion equipment to run continuously. It begins when stock, or a collection of raw material, is held in a hopper above a conveyance channel, ready to be poured into another channel below. After it is released, it is heated until it reaches a molten state. Beyond sits a die, which is a plate with a profile cut into it. This profile matches the intended design of the finished product. To take on this shape, while still molten, the material is forced through the die. Once it emerges on the other side, it is allowed to cool and harden.
- Welding Tubes
- Another method that is sometimes used to make ceramic tubes is welding. Welding is a sculpture and/or fabrication process that creates new products by joining materials via fusion. In other words, welding is a process that melts the ends of two or more materials and joins them. Common types of welding include electrical welding and chemical welding. Subtypes of electrical welding include laser beam welding, arc welding and induction welding, while subtypes of chemical welding include solid reactant welding and oxyfuel welding.