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Strategic investments at CeramTec

State-of-the-art powder preparation for
over 30 different ceramic materials

CeramTec's headquarters in Plochingen hasn't seen this scale of new construction in nearly three decades: The engineers at CeramTec installed a modern new spray tower for ceramic powder preparation with a state-of-the-art design. For the technical ceramics specialists at CeramTec's Plochingen site, this was part of strategic investments totaling eight million euros. Investments were made in a number of areas including a new production line for dental ceramics, two hydraulic presses for complex ceramic components, and ultrasonic-guided 5-axis machining centers. But the big highlight was the new spray tower for preparing ceramic powders and granulates, the base materials for manufacturing products made from advanced ceramics. The new spray tower system makes it possible to prepare ceramic powders using improved processes and state-of-the-art methods with increased productivity. Over 30 different ceramic materials are produced in the spray tower, each with its own special preparation method.

The powders produced in Plochingen are sent both to domestic sites in Germany and to CeramTec GmbH's international locations. The stringent quality requirements for the products created from the powders demand that the materials meet the highest purity standards – the new system is invaluable for this. The key advantages of the new spray tower system are the improved quality and increased productivity it offers.

New spray tower system

Now the complete powder preparation is consolidated in a single building, which shortens distances and optimizes the manufacturing process. The powerful new spray tower is housed in a four-story building that is 20 meters tall, 36 meters long and 9.5 meters wide. The entire system was designed for an optimized production flow to achieve top-down production. This innovative technology opens up new possibilities for CeramTec with regard to new quality standards in powder preparation. There is now less danger of contamination when preparing different powders in the same spray tower and the cleaning and set-up times are much shorter. This is just another measure CeramTec has taken to ensure that it is always able to offer the most competitive products and innovations. The materials produced in the spray tower are used in many different applications such as in dentistry, machine and plant engineering, automotive engineering and in the textile industry.

Producing ceramic powders

The various raw materials needed for the production of ceramics are first ground, then mixed, filtered and finally spray-dried. In the first step, grinding, the raw materials are pulverized into micrometer-sized granulates or ground into nanometer-sized particles as powders for special high-end products. The resulting “slurry” is combined with binders and other organic additives and then atomized in the spray tower in a hot air current. This method creates granulates that are well-suited for dosing and the working mass is easily processed in further steps. To assure quality at all times, physical measurement methods are used to continuously check the chemical composition, crystal structure and size distribution.