Sintering happens as part of a manufacturing process used with metal and ceramic and other materials. The atoms in the materials diffuse across the boundaries of the particles, fusing the particles together and creating one solid piece. Because the sintering temperature does not have to reach the melting point of the material, sintering is often chosen as the shaping process for materials with extremely high melting points. Sintering can be observed when ice cubes in a glass of water adhere to each other, which is driven by the temperature difference between the water and the ice.
Sintering is frequently considered successful when the process reduces porosity and enhances properties such as strength. In some special cases, sintering is precisely applied to enhance the strength of a material while conserving porosity, like in filters or catalysts, where gas absorbency is a priority. During the firing process, atomic diffusion drives powder surface elimination in different stages, starting at the formation of necks between powders to final elimination of small pores at the end of the process.
Sintering is part of the firing process used in the manufacture of crockery and other ceramic objects. These objects are made from substances such as glass. Some ceramic raw materials have a lower absorption for water and a lower plastic index than clay requiring organic additives in the stages before sintering.
Generally, most, if not all metals can be sintered. This applies especially to pure metals produced in vacuum which suffer no surface contamination. Sintering under atmospheric pressure requires the use of a protective gas. Sintering, with subsequent reworking, can produce a great range of material properties. Changes in density alloying and heat treatments can alter the physical characteristics of various products.
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