The Benefits of Electrically Conductive Silicon Nitride

Silicon nitride is one of the most advanced ceramic materials currently manufactured, providing outstanding hardness levels that are rarely matched by conventionally-manufactured components. Most silicon nitride products are electrically insulating, which provides certain industrial benefits for mechanical applications – but it can present difficulties when it comes to machining the material. Material profiling of ultra-hard insulators can result in a significant loss to its desirable properties, and commonly depends upon expensive procedures such as diamond grinding. Meanwhile, electrically conductive materials can be efficiently profiled through electro-discharge machining (EDM) with no loss to material hardness.

EDM is an advantageous process for multiple reasons. It is a no-contact machining process and as such applies no physical force to a material’s substrate. Instead, the EDM process involves creating a high temperature electric spark with an electrode that precisely melts localized conductive materials. These temperatures can routinely exceed 8000°C. This erosive process is controlled by submerging machined materials in dielectric liquids, which can both cool the material and rinse eroded particles.

This ingenious principle is ideal for profiling high-hardness materials into complex shapes without risk of heat distortion, surface warping, or reduced mechanical properties. The advantages offered over invasive machining processes made forming an electrically conductive silicon nitride essential.

Syalon 501: Electrically Conductive Silicon Nitride

Syalon 501 is a beta-phase silicon nitride that was developed to take advantage of the machining processes available exclusively to electrically conductive high hardness materials such as tungsten carbide (WC). It exhibits outstanding thermal resistance properties up to 700°C and a hardness value (HRA) of 90.5.

Syalon 101 displays improved mechanical values over Syalon 501, but the increased component design complexity enabled by EDM alone makes the latter a triumph of engineering. In the absence of large scale lithium-additive manufacturing processes, EDM profiling of electrically conductive silicon nitride is the method of choice for designing and manufacturing the most complicated components from refractory ceramics with repeatable results. It is possible to manufacture bespoke extrusion die profiles for wear industries, and unique molds for metal and plastic forming applications with previously impossible levels of customer-specific detailing. Conventional profiling of silicon nitride materials does not exhibit the requisite precision to provide such complicated shapes, which is what makes EDM of conductive silicon nitride a revelation and an integral part of modern silicon nitride manufacturing.

Silicon Nitride Ceramics from International Syalons

At International Syalons, we have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to innovation within the field of advanced silicon nitride ceramics. We are the UK’s leading producer of silicon nitride based advanced ceramics, and are continuing to develop industrial solutions for your unique applications.

If you would like any more information about Syalon 501, or any of our other silicon nitride products, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What are Weld Location Pins?

Weld location pins, or control pins, are hard-wearing and heat-resistant components that are used to precisely locate a material on one or more dimensional planes. Once fixed into position, the material can be accurately welded and – if necessary – moved along pre-determined axes for machining processes with high degrees of precision. This method is primarily used to weld captive nuts to sheet metal or body panels, for manufacturing parts that are used in various automotive and construction sectors.

Continue reading

Pressure Sintering

Sintering is a process by which a powder compact, or ‘green-body’, is transformed into a dense ceramic article which offers the desired characteristics and material properties. The process can enhance the materials mechanical and high-temperature properties, as well as the electrical conductivity, translucency, or thermal conductivity.

Continue reading

Sialon Shot Blast Nozzles for Industrial Wear Applications

Industrial wear applications create exacting conditions for equipment and components due to the inherent abrasiveness, corrosiveness, or thermal damages associated with these specific processes. Sandblasting, for example, is a surface preparation method that blows abrasive grit through shot blast nozzles at high velocities to change the surface composition of an object. This grit, comprised of tough substances such as sand or chill-cast iron, has the capacity to erode the interior components of the abrasive blaster – particularly at the outlet. Shot blast nozzles and their liners must therefore be composed of high strength materials capable of withstanding long-term abrasive conditions from high concentrations of small particle erosive elements.

Continue reading

Introducing Additive Manufacturing for Silicon Nitride Ceramics

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D-printing, is the process of designing and manufacturing intricate geometries from a limitless range of materials using innovative deposition techniques. The equipment involved deposits small amounts of a given material into predetermined channels to form small, complex components – as opposed to conventional manufacturing processes which subtract from materials through milling and machining, or pressing and extrusion.

Continue reading

Properties and Applications of Sialons – A Comprehensive Guide

SiAlONs were developed as a more cost-effective substitute for hot pressed silicon nitride. They have a complex chemistry, and should be considered a family of alloys with a broad range of properties. SiAlONs are formed when silicon nitride (Si3N4), aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and aluminium nitride (AlN) react. The materials combine to form a wide range of chemical compositions.

Continue reading

New Canteen at International Syalons

International Syalons have taken delivery and installed a brand new, bespoke and purpose built canteen in order to provide better facilities for our ever growing workforce. The new space which includes improved catering facilities is a much needed addition to the site and as has been welcomed by our highly skilled production staff.

The new building was designed and assembled off site by Portable Building Sales of East Yorkshire, UK and installed extremely quickly and easily.

Continue reading

International Syalons at Tube 2018 – Dusseldorf

International Syalons’ sales manager Simon Dodd will be attending Tube 2018 in Dusseldorf on April 18th – 19th.

The trade fair, which takes place every 2 years, attracts more than 31,000 visitors from 134 countries and is the world’s most important fair for tube manufacturing and processing across industries such as automotive, chemical processing, construction, electrical, as well as ferrous and non-ferrous metal forming.

Please feel free to make an appointment with Simon at to discuss your technical or sales needs.

Continue reading

International Syalons Awarded ISO 9001:2015

International Syalons are proud to announce that it has successfully been assessed by Lloyds Register of Quality Assurance against the revised international quality standard ISO 9001:2015. This Quality Management System applies to the manufacture of advanced ceramic powders and products.

Continue reading

International Syalons at Ceramitec 2018 – Munich

International Syalons’ technical manager Ben Melrose will be attending Ceramitec in Munich, Germany on April 11th – 12th.

The trade fair, which takes place every 2 years, attracts more than 15,000 participants to meet with the 600 exhibitors from around the world. Ceramitec is considered the “go-to” event within the ceramics industry, as raw materials, machinery, systems and processes suppliers and experts meet with manufacturers of all ceramics from classical and white-ware through to industrial, refractory and engineering and technical ceramics, as well as powder metallurgy.

Continue reading