Silicon nitride turbo-rotor, 1996.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A ceramic engineering component manufactured by NGK Ceramics Europe S A. Silicon nitride is a light, hard, stiff ceramic material which retains these qualities even at very high temperatures. It is used to make cutting tools and other mechanical engineering components with high wear resistance. The term ceramic, in its modern context, covers an extremely broad range of inorganic materials. They contain non-metallic and metallic elements and are produced by a wide variety of manufacturing techniques. Engineering ceramics are capable of very high strength and hardnes, exceptional chemical stability and can be manufactured to very close dimensional tolerances. Their introduction as engineering components in recent years has revolutionised engineering design practice.