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Ceramic and powder processing
Since most ceramics cannot be melted and cast or forged into shape, we often resort to making them from powders which, when heated to allow atom mobility, sinter to near full density. Two problems emerge; the first is how to get complicated shapes from powder and the second is that the fine powders needed for sintering are ‘sticky’ and don’t pack together well (the van der Waals attractive force between adjacent particles over-rides the force on an individual particle in the gravitational field). One way around these difficulties is to use injection moulding, which is widely applied for thermoplastics. The powder is incorporated into a wax or polymer vehicle, moulded and the vehicle is removed, usually by heating and sometimes assisted by capillary action. There are many other processes used for shaping thermoplastics and so the question arises; can they also be used for making ceramics. The answer is that they all can, with different degrees of success.
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