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5 Ceramic Products That Changed the World

When you think of ceramics, many people may flash back to a high school pottery class or think of a fine china or dollmaker. What many do not realize is that we use ceramics for everything from screws to laboratory equipment. Working directly with our customers, Orton continually explores new products and services with the same commitment our founder Dr. Edward Orton Jr. made to the ceramic industry over 100 years ago. The ceramic industry is vast, creating products used by everyone in the world. There are some that you might not think of, though, and we want to show you some of the more interesting items on the list to broaden your view on the wide world of ceramics. It is so much more than your mom’s favorite vase.

1. Ceramic Dental Products

The color, size and strength of dental parts made from zirconia are directly related to the temperature they are sintered. The fascinating use of ceramic in the dental field seems tailor-made. Ceramic is the proper color, consistency and general feel of natural teeth. Being that it is ceramic material, the temperature can be set so precisely that the ceramic hardens into the exact hardness of human teeth. Interesting fact: Before the use of ceramic in dentistry, materials such as wood, wax, gold, silver, plastic and even seashells! For more interesting stories of wild things people used to do with their teeth in history, click here.

2. Jet-Engine Turbine Blades

I bet you didn’t know that ceramics are used in the turbine blades for jets! That’s right, while often mixed with an alloy into a composite, ceramics are used in aircrafts because they are ⅓ the weight of an alloy, they can operate under degrees of 500 or higher unlike alloys which will soften with intense heat, they increase thrust due to not needing as much cooling air, reduce gas consumption and reduce the cost of electricity. Technologies like ceramic composites are making our aircrafts more efficient, lighter, faster and stronger.

3. Space Shuttle Tiles

Did you ever wonder how they were able to make space shuttles that do not burn up on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere? The answer? Ceramics! Ceramics can handle such high temperatures that when scientists from shuttle development placed a sample of the ceramic shuttle tiles into a 2200 degree furnace. When taken out, they could pick the tiles up in less than 10 seconds with their bare hands while they still glowed, molten inside. The science of ceramics not only helps us get to space, it allows us to get home and share the story. To see the video of the glowing shuttle tiles, click here!

4. Ballistic Protection

Why would body armor be made with ceramic plates? Hard body armor, made out of thick ceramic or metal plates, functions basically the same way as the iron suits worn by medieval knights, the armor material pushes out on the bullet with the same force with which the bullet pushes in, so the armor is not penetrated. You may be thinking, bathroom tile is made of ceramic and it is extremely brittle, so how does it work against a bullet? It turns out there are thousands of different materials classified as ceramics. The ceramic used in body armor is called alumina, with the chemical formula Al2O3. Sapphires are made of alumina, and sapphire is very strong.

5. Biomedical Implants

Over the last twenty years, there has been a considerable increase in the use of ceramic materials for implant devices. With an excellent combination of strength and toughness together with bio-inert properties and low wear rates, a special type of oxide called zirconia is now used for total hip replacements. The zirconia doubles the strength of implants prompting other applications which could benefit such as knee joints, shoulders and spinal implants. Just like with teeth, ceramics can be made to closely resemble bone in weight, density, color and strength.

Ceramics Are Cooler Than Your Pottery Class...

Ceramics are changing manufacturing and technology more every year. The breakthroughs in composites and temperature testing are creating safer, stronger, better and more advanced products than ever before. There are so many more interesting uses for ceramics today. To learn more, visit Orton Ceramics online at You can also get to know us better by liking our Facebook page to receive more access to our great articles, posts and updates! Visit us on Facebook and Twitter at @OrtonCeramic.


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