Ceramics are formed by mixing clay with additives and water and moulding it into the desired shape. It is fired in a high temperature kiln or furnace before cooling after which it is set. Ceramics are hard and brittle materials, which can absorb high compression forces but can be sheared easily.
Ceramics were originally used to make pottery and porcelain utensils, but newer technologies have developed ceramics for a wider range of applications. Ceramic tiles are used to make an outer skin for space shuttles as the material is able to withstand the extreme temperatures of re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Other applications include the aerospace industry, the electronics industry and even dental and bone replacements.