Flexible ceramic heat shield material

Ceramic coatings are widely used to protect a variety of components, particularly automobile engine components, against the effects of heat, wear, abrasion and rust. Unfortunately they are naturally brittle, which has limited their use to rigid substrates. But now UK-based company Zircotec has developed what it says is the first-ever flexible ceramic heat-shield material, opening the door for ceramic materials to be used in a far wider range of automotive, aerospace and industrial applications.

The application of ceramic coatings to metallic and composite components traditionally uses plasma spraying. This results in coatings that are applied to the material surface in a lightweight layer and can reduce surface temperatures by up to 33 percent, but the process entails treating parts directly using 14000ºK plasma sprays.

After more than five years of research Zircotec has developed a new process in which the ceramic material is sprayed in the form of thousands of individual "platelets" on the surface of aluminum foil. While the platelets are close-packed to provide comprehensive heat protection, this structure allows the foil to be bent and manipulated to suit different shapes. It can even be folded tightly through 180 degrees without damaging the thermal barrier.

For the first time the new product, which Zircotec has dubbed ZircoFlex, will allow ceramic coatings to be installed in-line to parts and assemblies during manufacture, even in high volume applications, without disrupting production flow.

Source: gizmag.comAdded: 18 August 2009