The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology is forming the Ceramic Processing Characterization Consortium to strengthen the measurement and standards infrastructure for ceramic particulate systems with a view to ultimately enhancing the competitiveness of the U.S. ceramic processing industry, the agency announced.
For ceramists frustrated with incomplete and incompatible measurements, the CPCC provides promising solutions.
"After consultation with researchers from many kinds of organizations interested in ceramics, we've all agreed to form this consortium to help researchers understand they're not alone," said George Onoda, director of the CPCC and member of NIST's Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory. "We hope to get together to solve some common problems for the benefit of everyone."
Measurement is critical to ceramic processing because, unlike in plastics or metals processing, ceramic materials remain in a solid phase throughout processing. So, measuring a dense ceramic means thoroughly understanding the physical and chemical characteristics of the powder that made it making ceramics far more dependent than plastics or metals on accurate measurements of raw materials.
Efficiency could soar if companies start to use common methods for measuring materials. At present, companies may spend a great deal of time attempting to characterize the raw materials they receive from suppliers. Further impeding efficiency is the fact that many different instruments used to measure ceramic powder size, for instance, often will give different results for similar samples.
The consortium's initial research agenda covers several general categories for characterizing ceramic particulate systems. They include physical features of powders, chemical features of powders, powders in a liquid medium, dense pastes, removal of temporary additives (such as water and binder burnout), green bodies, sintered bodies and porous bodies.
The consortium will determine what needs to be measured and why each measurement method is necessary. Individual projects will be determined by consortium members, who will divide up into working groups, each focusing on an important subject area. Reports and technical results from the groups will be coordinated by the CPCC director.
Many principal investigators from private companies, universities, government research laboratories and private-sector laboratories already have expressed interest in joining the consortium, which has no membership fee. To join, each member's organization must establish a memorandum of understanding with NIST.
Because the focus on measurement and standards is a shared concern, results of the consortium will be generic, open and freely shared with anyone who is interested. No proprietary information or intellectual property will be exchanged.
For more information, contact George Onoda, A256 Materials Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-4489, fax: (301) 990-8729, email: george.onoda [at] nist.gov, or visit the CPCC web site at http://www.ceramics.nist.gov/programs/cpcc/index.htm.
A non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.