Ceramic sintering modelled successfully

Software has been developed that will hopefully remove the trial and error element from developing ceramic components

A team led by Professor Jingzhe Pan, in the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester has developed a method of modelling the sintering of ceramics.

The professor explains: "Predicting change in dimension during sintering is challenging, requiring extensive data on the material in question. Obtaining the required physical data has been difficult and expensive. Our method simply uses density measurements of different ceramics during sintering in our computer software that can predict changes in dimensions, even before production begins. This method does not depend on the physical properties of any one ceramic material - it simply uses densification data from a small sample of the material and extrapolates the data, such that it can be applied to larger quantities used in manufacturing. It can thus, be applied to a wide range of ceramics".

Professor Pan, who has been investigating this process for the last ten years, adds that the ceramic industry is aware of the enormous potential of computer and mathematical modelling, and of the benefits of shifting emphasis from historical data to a more predictive approach. However, the team thinks that several challenges will need to be overcome before this method reaches daily application in industry.

In particular, the system will need to be converted into a more user-friendly form for industrial use. Further, the technique will have to be demonstrated in a range of industrial products.

Professor Pan and his group are currently investigating properties of multi-layered ceramics, as are commonly used in fuel cells, and industrial ceramic coatings.

The professor may be contacted on 0116 223 1092 or at jp165@le.ac.uk

Tom Shelley

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