Zirconia Ceramics

Unlike traditional ceramics that tend to be hard and brittle, Zirconia offers high strength, wear resistance, and flexibility far beyond those of most other technical ceramics. Zirconia is a very strong technical ceramic with excellent properties in hardness, fracture toughness, and corrosion resistance; all without the most common property of ceramics – high brittleness. 

There are several grades of Zirconia available, the most common of which are Yttria Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Y-PSZ) and Magnesia Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Mg-PSZ). Both of these materials offer excellent properties, however, the operating environment and part geometry will dictate which grade may be suitable for specific applications (more on this below). Its unique resistance to crack propagation and high thermal expansion make it an excellent material for joining ceramics with metals like steel. Due to Zirconia’s unique properties it is sometimes referred to as the “ceramic steel”.

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CeramaZirc Ultra Tough

CeramaZirc Ultra Tough is an advanced zirconia-based ceramic composite material based on partially stabilized zirconia and alumina platelets and is the latest and toughest composite to be introduced by Precision Ceramics. 

Zirconia Properties

General Properties

Composition
Unit
-
CeramaZirc
Yttria Stabilized
CeramaZirc Plus
Yttria Stabilized
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
Yttria Stabilized
Color
Unit
-
CeramaZirc
Ivory
CeramaZirc Plus
Ivory
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
Grey

Mechanical Properties

Density
Unit
g/cm3
CeramaZirc
6.05
CeramaZirc Plus
6.05
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
6.07
Youngs Modulus
Unit
GPa
CeramaZirc
200
CeramaZirc Plus
200
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
200
Fracture Toughness
Unit
Mpa x m1/2
CeramaZirc
8
CeramaZirc Plus
8
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
8
Poissons Ratio
Unit
-
CeramaZirc
0.30
CeramaZirc Plus
0.30
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
0.30
Compressive Strength
Unit
MPa
CeramaZirc
2100
CeramaZirc Plus
2100
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
2100
Flexural Strength
Unit
MPa
CeramaZirc
850
CeramaZirc Plus
1200
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
1400
Hardness (Vickers 500g)
Unit
GPa
CeramaZirc
12.5
CeramaZirc Plus
13.5
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
14.5

Thermal Properties

Max Use Temp
Unit
°C
CeramaZirc
1000
CeramaZirc Plus
1000
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
1000
Coefficient of Expansion
Unit
10-6/°C
CeramaZirc
10
CeramaZirc Plus
10
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
10
Thermal Conductivity, 25°C
Unit
W/mK
CeramaZirc
2
CeramaZirc Plus
2
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
2
Thermal Shock Resistance ΔT
Unit
°C
CeramaZirc
250
CeramaZirc Plus
250
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
250

** Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) describes how the size of an object changes with a change in temperature.

Electrical Properties

Dielectric Strength 6.35mm
Unit
ac-kV/mm
CeramaZirc
9.0
CeramaZirc Plus
9.0
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
9.0
Dielectric Constant 25° C
Unit
1 MHz
CeramaZirc
29
CeramaZirc Plus
29
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
29
Volume Resistivity @ 25°C
Unit
Ω cm
CeramaZirc
1 x 1013
CeramaZirc Plus
1 x 1013
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
1 x 1013
Volume Resistivity @ 300°C
Unit
Ω cm
CeramaZirc
1 x 1010
CeramaZirc Plus
1 x 1010
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
1 x 1010
Volume Resistivity @ 500°C
Unit
Ω cm
CeramaZirc
1 x 106
CeramaZirc Plus
1 x 106
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
1 x 106
Volume Resistivity @ 700°C
Unit
Ω cm
CeramaZirc
5 x 103
CeramaZirc Plus
5 x 103
CeramaZirc Nano-HIP
5 x 103

Available Grades of Zirconia

Yttria Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Y-PSZ)

Yttria Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Y-PSZ) is doped with Yttrium oxide (Y2O3) as a stabilizing agent which stresses the internal grain structure and makes the material stronger by changing it from a monoclinic to tetragonal phase. It is a fine grain material that has one of highest flexural strength among all ceramic materials. It has very high impact and wear resistance while offering a low thermal conductivity, often making it a suitable material to replace metals.The addition of Yttrium oxide (Yttria) enables the material to undergo transformation toughening which is responsible for the high toughness. As the material is stressed, it becomes more energetically favorable for the crystal structure to revert back to transforms from tetragonal to monoclinic phase, resulting in a highly localized volume increase of 3% – 5%. This increase in volume puts crack under compression which reduces its ability to grow and propagate into more cracks. This characteristic accounts for the material’s low susceptibility to stress fatigue and high flexural strength.

While Y-PSZ is excellent for demanding mechanical applications, it may not be suitable for very high temperature applications because it suffers from grain boundary sliding; this occurs when prolonged exposure to heat causes the material to transform form the strong tetragonal phase to the weaker monoclinic phase. Similarly, it may not be suitable for warm and moist conditions since its properties deteriorate when it is exposed to water vapor. YSZ is therefore best suited when it is operating in dry and moderate temperature conditions. For more information on hydrothermal aging of Zirconia please contact us.

Magnesia Partially Stabilized Zirconia (MSZ)

Doping of Zirconia with Magnesium oxide (MgO) also leads to a stressed internal matrix, however, this structure is cubic. M-PSZ has better temperature and moisture resistant properties because it does not suffer from phase migration. M-PSZ maintains its strength even in moist high temperature environments where YSZ mechanical properties begin to deteriorate.

Zirconia Machining

Zirconia can be machined in green, biscuit, or fully dense states. While in the green or biscuit form it can be machined relatively easily into complex geometries. However, the sintering process that is required to fully densify the material causes the Zirconia body to shrink approximately 20%. This shrinkage means that it is impossible to hold very tight tolerances when machining Zirconia pre-sintering.

In order to achieve very tight tolerances, fully sintered material must be machined/ground with diamond tools.  In this process a very precise diamond coated tool/wheel is used to abrade away the material until the desired form is created. Due to the inherit toughness and hardness of the material, this can be a time consuming and costly process.

Precision Ceramics is your Zirconia machining specialist for your technical ceramic prototyping & manufacturing needs; we are always happy to use our many years of advanced ceramics experience to provide advice on materials, design, and application. If you would like to buy Zirconia plates, rods, tubes or custom machined components, please contact us and one of our experts will be happy to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What can Zirconia ceramic be used for?
    • Wire forming/drawing dies
    • Insulating rings in thermal processes
    • Precision shafts and axles in high wear environments
    • Furnace process tubes
    • Wear resistance pads
    • Thermocouple protection tubes
    • Sandblasting nozzles
    • Refractory material
    • Extrusion dies
    • Bushings and caps
    • Kiln furniture crucible
    • Fiber optic ferrules and sleeves
    • Knives and blades
    • Fuel cell parts
    • Bearings & rollers
    • Welding nozzles & pins
    • Laser parts
    • Gas igniters
    • Electric insulator
    • Ceramic guiders
    • Oxygen sensors
    • Medical and surgical component
    • Mechanical seals
    • Pumps, pistons, and liners
  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What's the difference between Yttria vs. Magnesia Zirconia?

    While Y-PSZ is excellent for demanding mechanical applications, it may not be suitable for very high temperature applications because it suffers from grain boundary sliding; this occurs when prolonged exposure to heat causes the material to transform form the strong tetragonal phase to the weaker monoclinic phase. Similarly, it may not be suitable for warm and moist conditions since its properties deteriorate when it is exposed to water vapor. YSZ is therefore best suited when it is operating in dry and moderate temperature conditions. For more information on hydrothermal aging of Zirconia please contact us.
    M-PSZ has better temperature and moisture resistant properties because it does not suffer from phase migration. M-PSZ maintains its strength even in moist high temperature environments where YSZ mechanical properties begin to deteriorate.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What are the properties of Zirconia?

    The following are some general properties of Zirconia ceramic. For a full list and comparison of Zirconia properties, see our Zirconia properties comparison table.

    • High density – up to 6.1 g/cm^3
    • High flexural strength and hardness
    • Excellent fracture toughness – impact resistant
    • High maximum use temperature
    • Wear resistant
    • Good frictional behavior
    • Electrical insulator
    • Low thermal conductivity – aprox. 10% of Alumina
    • Corrosion resistance in acids and alkalis
    • Modulus of elasticity similar to steel
    • Coefficient of thermal expansion similar to iron
  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What is Zirconia ceramic?

    Zirconia is a very strong technical ceramic with excellent properties in hardness, fracture toughness, and corrosion resistance; all without the most common property of ceramics – high brittleness. Unlike traditional ceramics that tend to be hard and brittle, Zirconia offers high strength, wear resistance, and flexibility far beyond those of most other technical ceramics.


    There are several grades of Zirconia available, the most common of which are Yttria Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Y-PSZ) and Magnesia Partially Stabilized Zirconia (Mg-PSZ). Both of these materials offer excellent properties, however, the operating environment and part geometry will dictate which grade may be suitable for specific applications (more on this below). Its unique resistance to crack propagation and high thermal expansion make it an excellent material for joining ceramics with metals like steel. Due to Zirconia’s unique properties it is sometimes referred to as the “ceramic steel”.