Thermal expansion of ceramic


Thermal expansion - Testing of ceramics at high temperatures

At WZR ceramic solutions we test the thermal expansion of your ceramic in a dilatometer up to 1500°C. Here we respond to your questions and carry out the tests according to standards and task related.

We assist you with our knowledge and many years of experience in finding solutions to prevent possible temperature-related stresses.

Im Dilatometer eingespannte Probe

Thermal expansion

What is thermal expansion?

Thermal expansion describes the change in length of a material caused by a change in temperature. It is given as a relative change in length in percent. Furthermore, this specific material property can be defined by the thermal expansion coefficient α, which represents the ratio of the relative change in length to the change in temperature.

How does thermal length change occur?

The most common causes for changes in length at rising temperatures are phase transitions of components of the ceramic. This changes the arrangement of the atoms in components and produces denser or less dense crystals.

Two types of changes of thermal expansion are differentiated: reversible and irreversible changes in length. With reversible changes, the initial length of the sample is reached again after cooling. In the case of irreversible changes, the length of the sample after cooling deviates from the initial length. Reasons for this can be irreversible phase changes and sintering of ceramics.


Why is it important to determine the thermal expansion of a ceramic using dilatometry?

Ceramic materials can be used at temperatures > 1.000°C – when plastics and metals already fail. However, like all materials, they react to changing temperatures. Here, expansion or shrinkage of the material can lead to damage of the component and the surrounding areas. In order to make the right choice of material and to design the component or a refractory lining according to requirements, the characteristic value of thermal expansion must be known. However, since ceramics are often mixtures of component, their behaviour at high temperatures cannot be predicted. For this reason, the thermal expansion must be determined in advance by dilatometry.


How is the thermal expansion of a ceramic determined?

We measure the thermal expansion in a dilatometer up to 1500°C. For this purpose, a sample of maximum 50 mm in length and 6.5 mm in width is sufficient. As reference material we use a corundum single crystal.

For the measurement, the prepared ceramic sample is placed in the dilatometer and heated up. The heating rate is defined in advance in accordance with the task and the standards. After reaching the maximum temperature, the system is cooled down evenly to room temperature. Meanwhile, the instrument records the changes in length of the sample during the entire measuring period. Based on the relation between the change in length and temperature, the thermal expansion coefficient and thus the thermal expansion of the material can be determined.

It is also possible to examine the shrinkage behaviour of green parts before the production of a component. In this case, the heating rate of the measurement is defined according to the planned sintering curve.


What are the limits of thermal expansion testing?

Since the foundation of WZR ceramic solutions, we have built on close contact with our customers. When testing thermal expansion, the exchange with you is particularly important in order to optimally adjust the test temperature to your material. Please note that we test the thermal expansion of materials up to a maximum temperature of 1500°C.

By means of standards we ensure a validation of the measurement results. For this reason, the specimen to be tested must have a comparable specimen length or allow preparation for a suitable specimen geometry. We would be pleased to discuss the testing of the thermal expansion of your ceramic.

Test procedure

What other testing methods does WZR offer at high temperatures?

In addition to the testing of thermal elongation, we offer testing of hot flexural strength.

Contact person

Anika Braun
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