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Aluminum nitride (AlN) is a technical ceramic material with high thermal conductivity and electrical insulation properties. It has a wide range of applications in power and microelectronics where it acts as a circuit carrier or wafer substrate. It also offers superior corrosion resistance and thermal shock resistance.
The AlN micro-hardness at room temperature is between 12 and 18 GPa. This makes it much harder than GaN but softer than 6H-SiC. It is more resistant to chemical oxidation than Si and significantly better than GaN.
The machinability of aluminum nitride is very good and can be machined without the need for diamond tools. The material is non-toxic, odorless and has a low coefficient of thermal expansion making it ideal for use in harsh environments. It can be machined at a higher feed and speed than most engineering ceramics, resulting in longer tool life and faster production rates. It is also suitable for interrupted cuts and allows the user to machine at a cooler working temperature, which helps reduce chipping and cracking.
The machinability of AlN can be further improved by the use of abrasives such as cerium oxide. This can increase the lubricity of the cutting fluid reducing friction between the abrasive and the workpiece, resulting in reduced heat generation and improved tool life. This is particularly beneficial in hard machining processes where the tool is subjected to intense mechanical stress and strain. The abrasive will also help reduce the surface roughness of the workpiece, further increasing the machinability of the material.