Ceramics have existed for thousands of years in the form of pottery, but the use of technical ceramics for certain high-performance applications is relatively new. They can provide impact protection & abrasion resistance, temperature resistance & thermal insulation, and a good strength to weight ratio. A few examples of modern ceramics and applications would be the tiles used to insulate the surface of the Space Shuttle Discovery from the extreme temperatures that are generated during reentry, bullet-proof ceramic body armor, ceramic ball bearings used to maximize performance in the Tour de France, Silicon carbide based Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCS) used to save weight and fuel in the newest generations of jet engines, capacitors, piezoelectric material, and the cores of catalytic converters.
Ceramic products often start as a combination of powders, binder, and a solvent such as water or alcohol. The powders often vary in size and shape (morphology) so that they will pack together efficiently to provide the desired density, porosity, and mechanical properties. It is important that any agglomerates in these powders are broken down and homogeneously dispersed so that the finished product is not weakened by domains of unmixed material. In cases where the ceramic materials will be formed from a slurry, bubbles and voids should also removed to prevent negative effects on mechanical, thermal, electrical properties. Once materials have been properly mixed and deaired it can then be formed into the desired shape by injection molding, dry pressing, casting, 3D printing, etc. and then baked / sintered into a solid body. The part is then ready for further processing & integration or sometimes used as manufactured.