Pressureless sintering of ZrB2–SiC composite laminates using boron and carbon as sintering aids
A processing method common to composite ceramics with very different ZrB2/SiC ratios was developed in order to exploit ZrB2–SiC laminates comprising alternate layers with different compositions for thermal protection systems of re-entry vehicles. Ceramic laminates were made using SiC, ZrB2 and composites with a SiC/ZrB2 ratio ranging from 100 vol.-%SiC to 100 vol.-%ZrB2. The preparation was performed by tape casting of a slurry, layer stacking, debinding and pressureless sintering. Boron and carbon proved to be suitable sintering aids for SiC laminates as well as for composite laminates containing SiC. In the case of composites with a ZrB2 matrix, the second phase of SiC acted as a sintering aid. This process obtains very similar densification for specimens with very different compositions (ranging from 100%SiC to 80ZrB2–20SiC). The stiffness of ZrB2–SiC laminates increased with the ZrB2 content increase, while the bending strength was not affected by the ZrB2/SiC ratio.