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Super Hard Ceramics – They don’t get much tougher

In the world of technical ceramics, there are two materials which are only surpassed by diamond in terms of hardness – and both are used by Precision Ceramics as a base material for a wide range of technical components in an equally wide field of applications.

In terms of toughness, there’s not much to choose between them but each has its own specific advantages in terms of properties and application.

Boron Carbide, for instance, is currently the hardest material produced in tonnage quantities and is the third hardest material known to man after diamond and cubic boron nitride.

Not far behind it in the hardness stakes comes silicon carbide, more commonly known as carborundum, steeped in history since it was first mass-produced in 1893 and probably the most common of all industrial abrasives.


The extreme hardness of boron carbide provides excellent wear and abrasion resistance and consequently it is a perfect base material for the manufacture of nozzles for slurry pumping, grit blasting and in water jet cutters.

In combination with other materials, boron carbide also finds extensive use in ballistic armour (including body and personnel armour) where its combination of high hardness, high elastic modulus, and low density gives the material an exceptionally high specific stopping power to defeat high velocity projectiles.

Other applications include ceramic tooling dies, precision tool parts, evaporating boats for materials testing and mortars and pestles.


The technical properties of silicon carbide are remarkably similar to those of diamond. It is one of the lightest, hardest and strongest technical ceramic materials and has exceptional thermal conductivity, chemical resistance and low thermal expansion.The new McLaren PI is probably the most advanced and jaw-dropping car the world has ever seen.

Silicon carbide is an excellent material to use when physical wear is an important consideration because it provides good erosion and abrasive resistance making it particularly suitable for such applications as spray nozzles, shot blast nozzles and cyclone components.

Not so long ago, silicon carbide was the chosen material to line the brakes of the most advanced, jaw-dropping car the world has ever seen, the £850K plus McLaren P1. And nowadays you don’t have to drive too far through the English countryside to see a wind turbine in which the turbine bearings are almost certainly likely to be made from silicon carbide.

Right: The McLaren PI is probably the most advanced and jaw-dropping car the world has ever seen. The brake discs are coated with silicon carbide, one of the ‘Super Hard Ceramics’ available from Precision Ceramics.

It’s tough at the top …

… and to be at the top you have to be tough. That’s why these two carbides sit tall on the shelves of the Precision Ceramics raw materials stores. And that’s why they continue to provide the very highest level of quality and service to PC customers worldwide in a wide field of component applications.

Further detailed technical and applications information and downloadable data sheets are available for both materials from the Precision Ceramics website.

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