Originally Published MPMN November 2005
Coating May Solve Ceramics Surface Problems
|A fluoropolymer coating for ceramics improves usability by lessening inherent adhesive qualities of the material.|
“Stiction.” It may not be used in daily conversation, but this term is used in the manufacturing industry to describe a mounting problem with ceramic components. Stiction exists when a ceramic component with delicate or intricate dimensions sticks to another piece and then eventually gives way, an occurrence that may lessen effectiveness of the overall device over time. A fluoropolymer coating for ceramics by Surface Engineering Associates (Eldersburg, MD) prevents stiction while preserving the material’s properties.
The nanolayer fluoropolymer surface enhancement for ceramics has a range of uses in medical applications. However, despite such favorable characteristics as machinability and hardness, ceramics can be difficult materials to work with because of surface issues that arise. One common problem is that materials being dispensed may adhere to the ceramic component in such products as nozzles and pumps, creating a grainy material buildup that may cause moving parts to jam or reduce the efficacy of the product, according to Todd Schlesinger, president of Surface Engineering Associates.
As the industry continues to miniaturize devices, Schlesinger predicts a larger demand for the coating. The nanolayering of the coating amounts to negligible added weight or alteration to the device, a key factor for use in microdevices. Alternatively, thick, spray-on coatings may require calibration changes or alterations to a product to accommodate the added weight. Because it does not affect inherent material properties, the coating is well suited for implantable ceramic components, substrates, and chips for devices. In addition, the coating deflects moisture, much the way Teflon does.
“The coating improves the capabilities of engineering ceramics, which are heading toward the perfect material,” says Schlesinger. “Ceramics have a good list of beneficial properties. By curing the surface issues, I think it’s really improving the usefulness of ceramics, especially as these designs become smaller or more precise.”
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