Ceramic engineering is the science of creating objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials. This is done either by the action of heat, or at lower temperatures using precipitation reactions from high purity chemical solutions. The term includes the purification of raw materials, the study and production of the chemical compounds concerned, their formation into components and the study of their structure, composition and properties. The ceramic engineering and research industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Applications continue to expand as researchers develop new kinds of ceramics which serve as different purposes.
Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure with long-range order on atomic scale. Glass ceramics may have an amorphous or glassy structure with limited or short range atomic order. Class ceramics are either formed from a molten mass that solidifies on cooling, formed and matured by the action of heat, or is chemically synthesized at low temperatures. The special characteristics of ceramic material give rise to many applications in material engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering.
Glass-ceramic materials share many properties with both glass and ceramics. They have an amorphous phase and one or more crystalline phases which are produced by “controlled crystallization”. This typically avoids that in glass manufacturing. In this process, the molten glass is cooled down gradually before reheating and annealing. In this heat treatment the glass partly crystallizes.