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Published on July 16th, 2018 | By: Belinda Raines


Branches of Ceramics

Published on July 16th, 2018 | By: Belinda Raines

[Image above] Credit: x@ray; Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


There are two major categories of glasses and ceramics: traditional and advanced.


Traditional applications include consumer products like dinnerware or ovenware and construction products like tile or windows. Most of these applications have been in use for many years and therefore markets are mature with single digit growth.


Advanced applications take advantage of specific mechanical/electrical/ optical/biomedical/chemical properties of glass or ceramic materials and have entered the scene over the last several decades or so. The markets for some of these applications can have double digit growth.


The two major categories can be further broken down into more specific product classifications or market segments as seen in the tables below. One category that is sometimes hard to define is refractories. The production of most ceramics and glasses, as well as other commodities like metals, metal alloys, and cement, would not be possible without these materials. Refractories are critical materials that resist aggressive conditions, including high temperature (up to 3200°F), chemical and acid attack, abrasion, mechanical impact, and more.


Hence, refractory ceramics are little known, enabling materials that play a crucial role in allowing all commodity manufacturers to operate efficiently and profitably, thus supporting the global economy. Although refractories are typically categorized as a traditional application since the market is mature, their high performance makes them more of an advanced material. In fact, one global market estimate for advanced ceramics includes kiln furniture, which is estimated at around $211 million.


Traditional Segments


 Segment  Products
Structural clay products Brick, sewer pipe, roofing tile, clay floor and wall tile (i.e., quarry tile), flue linings



Dinnerware, floor and wall tile, sanitaryware (vitreous china plumbing fixtures), electrical porcelain, decorative ceramics

Brick and monolithic products used in iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, glass, cements, ceramics, energy conversion, petroleum, and chemicals industries, kiln furniture used in various industries


Glasses Flat glass (windows), container glass (bottles), pressed and blown glass (dinnerware), glass fibers (home insulation)
Abrasives Natural (garnet, diamond, etc.) and synthetic (silicon carbide, diamond, fused alumina, etc.) abrasives are used for grinding
Cements Concrete roads, bridges, buildings, dams, residential sidewalks, bricks/blocks


Advanced Segments

Segment Products
Automotive Diesel engine cam rollers, fuel pump rollers, brakes, clutches, spark plugs, sensors, filters, windows, thermal insulation, emissions control, heaters, igniters, glass fiber composites for door chassis and other components
Aerospace Thermal insulation, space shuttle tiles, wear components, combustor liners, turbine blades/rotors, fire detection feedthrus, thermocouple housings, aircraft instrumentation and control systems, satellite positioning equipment, ignition systems, instrument displays and engine monitoring equipment, nose caps, nozzle jet vanes, engine flaps
Chemical/petrochemical Thermocouple protection tubes, tube sheet boiler ferrules, catalysts, catalyst supports, pumping components, rotary seals
Coatings Engine components, cutting tools, industrial wear parts, biomedical implants, anti-reflection, optical, self-cleaning coatings for building materials
Electrical/electronic Capacitors, insulators, substrates, integrated circuit packages, piezoelectrics, transistor dielectrics, magnets, cathodes, superconductors, high voltage bushings, antennas, sensors, accelerator tubes for electronic microscopes, substrates for hard disk drives
Environmental Solid oxide fuel cells, gas turbine components, measuring wheels/balls for check valves (oilfields), nuclear fuel storage, hot gas filters (coal plants), solar cells, heat exchangers, isolator flanges for nuclear fusion energy research, solar-hydrogen technology, glass fiber reinforcements for wind turbine blades
Homeland security/military Particulate/gas filters, water purification membranes, catalysts, catalyst supports, sulfur removal/recovery, molecular sieves





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