Dynamic Ceramic has picked up a Smart Achievement Award for its ceramic alloy components, initially developed with a £45,000 Department of Trade and Industry Smart grant.
The company uses strong Technox Zirconia ceramics to produce components with tolerances 10 times more accurate than those produced using traditional methods.
Dynamic Ceramics uses 3-D design and CAD/CAM systems and is based on an idea from material scientist Ian Birkby, who had just completed a DTI Teaching Company scheme at Leeds University in 1987.
Ceramic material is weak, brittle and chalky, and can be machined in this ‘green’ state. Then components are fired/sintered and typically shrink 40% by volume to create a robust component.
‘In the past the industry standard for producing advanced ceramic parts, without using time-consuming diamond grinding, was in the 1 2% tolerance range. Using the CAD/CAM system we achieved a 10-fold improvement in tolerances to 0.1%,’ said Birkby.
A second Smart grant of £30,000 helped the company boost turnover from £250,000 in 1993 to £1.6m today. It employs 25 people and exports 60% of its products. These range from valves for the chemical industry to solid ceramic pumps for oil exploration.