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Boron Carbide


Commonly designated B4C (78.3% carbon theoretical but free carbon can be present in some grades). Sintered B4C is the hardest material available after diamond (it is harder than silicon carbide and carborundum) and BIN (however unlike BIN it is available in tonnage amounts). Boron carbide is a non oxide ceramic made by reacting various borates with carbon (coatings are formed by reacting borate vapors and carbon gases).

B4C parts have a low specific gravity; high wear, heat and chemical resistance; high strength; and neutron absorbing properties (in nuclear reactors). However it's brittle nature and tendency to oxidize or react with various metals when heated limits its use in some abrasion and molten metal processing applications (however it can be employed to make refractory metal borides and light weight ceramic metal composites e.g. aircraft armor).

Very high densification can be achieved by hot pressing extremely fine powders under vacuum or controlled atmosphere. B4C parts can also be cast from very fine powders using the traditional deflocculation and plaster casting methods. Parts need to be fired to 1500C+.

B4C reacts with halogens and is used as a precursor in the production of nonoxide boron chemicals (e.g. BCl3) using the CVD (chemical vapor deposition) process.

Related Information


Oxide Analysis Formula
Materials Alumina
Materials Boron Nitride
Materials Silicon Carbide
Materials Barium Titanate
Typecodes Abrasive Resistant Super Hard Material
These materials are generally available in granular form, the particles are cemented together using frits to produce abrasive products. However powdered and slurried forms of these materials can also be formed and fired by various means to produce hard materials.
Typecodes Non-Oxide Material
Many of these materials are not used in traditional ceramics but they have such incredible properties that some have been included in this database.
Glossary Deflocculation
The deflocculation process is the magic behind the ceramic casting process. It enables you to make a slurry of far lower water content and thus lower shrinkage.
Glossary Hot Pressing


Frit Softening Point2720K, Boils at 3770K
Density (Specific Gravity)2.5

By Tony Hansen

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