What is Macor®?
Macor® is a machinable glass ceramic developed by Corning, composed of approximately 55% fluorphlogopite mica and 45% Borosilicate glass. The white, odourless, non-porous material appears porcelain-like, but has its own distinct properties. Macor® offers the performance of a technical ceramic, paired with the versatility of a high-performing polymer and the machinability of a soft metal. This unique combination of characteristics makes Macor® a superior material for engineering and design, with the ability to be quickly formed into highly complex shapes, using conventional metalworking tools.
What are Macor‘s® properties?
Macor® is able to withstand high temperatures and voltages and is a good electrical and thermal insulator. It remains continuously stable at 800°C, with a maximum peak at 1,000 °C. Unlike ductile materials, it doesn’t creep or deform. It’s outgassing in ultra-high vacuum environments can be eliminated as well, if degassed before use. The material is non wettable and can also be easily joined or sealed, both to itself and to other materials, in a number of ways.
Macor® can be machined easily, without costly specialist tools. It can be machined with high-speed steel tools, but carbide tools are suggested for longer wear. No post-firing is needed after machining Macor®, but a coolant, preferably a water-soluble coolant formulated for cutting and grinding glass or ceramics, should be used.
Along with machining it into shapes with ease, joining and sealing Macor® is also easily achieved. A number of techniques can be used to join the material onto itself or other materials. These range from a mechanical joint, or using Epoxy to create a moderately strong joint, to using sealing glass for a vacuum tight seal. In order to join Macor® to various metals, it can be metallised and these metallised parts can be soldered together.
Art and Design with Macor®
Macor® is appealing to designers, artists and engineers due to its unique properties, versatility and ease of use. It can be cut with ordinary metalworking tools and it offers very tight tolerances. This means that very complex design shapes can be created in a cost-effective and timely manner. For the design and manufacturing of products, there is a fast turnaround with Macor® and no post-firing or finishing is required. The material is created in standard size slabs (of about 36 cm × 36 cm × 6cm), from which components such as bars, sheets and rods are machined and made available.
Macor’s® applications are diverse and it is used across industries for its resistance to high temperatures, its insulation, machinability, zero porosity and no deformation. The applications range from components in the aerospace and outer-space, automotive, military, medical, nuclear, chemicals, semiconductor and electronics sectors. It can also be used in constant and ultra-high vacuum environments and was even in the Space Shuttle Orbiter!