Laboratory equipment made of high-quality oxide and non-oxide ceramic materials are used by industry, research institutes and universities when the properties of laboratory equipment made of metal, glass or plastic are not sufficient for the purpose. Ceramic laboratory equipment is often also used in routine controls for industrial production processes.
The focus in such demanding measurement applications is primarily on the following properties:
- Chemical purity
- Chemical corrosion resistance
- Thermal stability in oxidizing and reducing conditions as well as in vacuum
- Thermal shock resistance
- Thermal conductivity
For specific measurement methods, like, for example, X-ray diffraction analysis, it is necessary to grind the sample material if it is not yet available in suitable powder form. To minimize the ingress of extraneous material to a negligible level, the use of components made of ceramic materials are an expedient option in areas in contact with the material being ground, as these can withstand massive abrasive attack.
For the use of high-quality ceramic materials as components for machines and equipment in material testing, other key properties have to be provided:
- Geometric precision
- Mechanical strength at temperatures well in excess of 1000 °C
- Toughness at low temperatures
- Thermal expansion
- Electric insulation
- Realizability of adhesively bonded, high-vacuum-tight ceramic-ceramic and ceramic-metal composite components
Typical is the combination of different key properties and consequently a wide spectrum of requirement profiles.
Often, only high-grade oxide and non-oxide ceramic materials can meet the demands these measurement applications made on the components installed in machine and equipment positions exposed to high stresses. High-purity, dense-sintered materials made of Al2O3, ZrO2, mixed ceramics of the two oxides, SiC and Si3N4 are virtually predestined for such applications.
In some cases, they have proven effective for well over 50 years in a range of applications and there are generally part of the established standard.