Optimized Slurries for Spray Drying: Different Approaches to Obtain Homogeneous and Deformable Alumina-Zirconia Granules
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Spray drying is widely used for producing granulated feed materials for compaction process, which is the current industrial method for manufacturing alumina-zirconia femoral heads. The optimization of the granules compaction behavior requires the control of the slurry rheology. Moreover, for a dual-phase ceramic suspension, the even phase distribution has to be kept through the atomization step. Here we present two approaches addressing the key issues involved in the atomization of a composite system. Alumina-10 vol % zirconia powders were prepared by either a powder mixing route, or by the surface modification of a commercial α-alumina powder with a zirconium salt. Slurries from both powders were spray dried. The correlation between slurry rheology and pH, granules morphology and sintered microstructures was here investigated and discussed on the ground of the two feed materials characteristics. The processing conditions were optimized to obtain dense and homogeneous alumina-zirconia micro-nano composites by both processing routes.