The science and technology of creation of objects from non-metallic and inorganic materials is referred to as ceramic engineering. The process involves either the use of heat or as a result of precipitation reactions of pure chemical solutions at lower temperatures. It also involves raw material purification, analysis and fabrication of the concerned chemical compounds and their subsequent component formation along with a study of their chemical structure, composition and physical properties. Materials that are considered as ceramics possess a long-range order on the atomic scale and have crystalline or partly crystalline structure. Glass ceramics, in contrast, have a glassy amorphous structure with a short-range atomic order as they are formed from molten mass that hardens once cool. Ceramics possess special characteristics that permits its use for applications across fields like materials engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Practical applications of ceramics extend from fields of mining, food and chemical industries up to healthcare and aerospace sectors. Their heat-resistant properties lends them an ability to be used in tasks wherein metals or polymers may be unsuitable.
Ceramics engineers devise product and technique innovations to process different ceramic materials. Products could include anything from nuclear reactors to electronics and glassware. Some ceramics engineers, on the other hand, branch out into the research field wherein they attempt to develop new materials in synthetic form.
Interesting advances in the field of Ceramic Engineering include:
- Bioceramics: Biocompatible ceramics have found applications in many fields of medicine and now research has proposed its possible use in cancer therapeutics in two ways. In hyperthermia treatment, a magnetic or ferrite material is implanted onto ceramics following which it is heated up targeting cells of the cancerous area.
- Laser Assisted Machining (LAM) to process Ceramics: Conventional machining processes pose certain drawbacks due to the hard and brittle nature of the material along with exorbitant processing costs. This is where Laser Assisted Machining displays an edge over the methods that have been followed so far.
- Batteries with Ceramic Electrolytes: The latest in battery technology involves the use of a solid ceramic electrolyte as compared to the conventional battery liquid. This innovation makes the batteries less-combustible and safer to use.
How can a student opt for Ceramics Engineering in India?
A course for Ceramics Engineering is available at a Bachelor’s level in several Indian colleges like IIT Varanasi, NIT Rourkela and Andhra University.
Those looking to pursue a career in ceramics engineering should possess a thorough knowledge of concepts in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. They must have good analytical skills to understand the process and policies related to working with different types of ceramics. Attention to detail and creativity are attributes that cannot be overlooked. Good interpersonal communication skills will take a ceramics engineering graduate further in his career.
Industries that Ceramics Engineers can work in
Medicine | Mining | Aerospace | Food and chemical industry | Electronics | Refinery | Industrial & Transmission Electricity | Guided Light Wave Transmission | Engine components manufacturing units | Design firms | Ceramic ware manufacturing units | Construction services | Research and testing firms| Table ware | Sanitary ware | Glass Bulbs | Cutting tools Industry | Enamels factories | Kitchen ware Industry | Decorative ware Industry
- Ceramic Technologist are concerned with research, development, production and quality control processes associated with ceramic materials. They usually specialize in a niche of ceramics engineering like design or testing.
- Ceramic Designer design bespoke ceramics for commercial and domestic purpose. They also research materials and methods they could use to improve the quality of their designs.
Other possible employment opportunities include:
- Production Worker / Technician
- Construction Manager
- Marketing Executive