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  • Thank you for visiting Kyocera Corporation.
  • The second floor of our company building includes the “Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics” and the “Kyocera Showroom.” Please take your time looking around.
    The “Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics” introduces the various characteristics of fine ceramics, the history of fine ceramic technology development at Kyocera and the evolution of Kyocera’s fine ceramic products over the years.
  • The first part of the exhibition contains “Basic Understanding of Fine Ceramics” and a “History of ceramics.”
  • The central area contains an exhibition of the “Evolution of Kyocera Fine Ceramic products and technologies” each year from the foundation of the company in 1959 up to the company’s newest products of 2013. We think this will give you an idea of how Kyocera’s business operations have developed and expanded with the changing eras.
  • In the “Fine Ceramics Help Expand the Boundaries of Scientific Research” section, there is an exhibition of actual products and videos introducing various fine ceramic products that are being used in extreme environments such as in space and in the deep sea.
  • In the “History of Ceramic Packages in the Semiconductor Industry” section, there is a look back on the history of the semiconductor industry that started in Silicon Valley in the U.S. and an introduction to the contribution that Kyocera’s fine ceramic packages have made to the semiconductor industry.

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Types of ceramics

  • In general, substances include organic substances and inorganic substances can be divided into metals and nonmetals. Pottery such as bricks, tiles and cups - - - in other words, ceramics, can be described as “materials that are nonmetal inorganic substances that have been subjected to high-temperature processing in their manufacturing processes.” Among these ceramics, items that are used in various industries such as electronics products and are required to have particularly excellent properties and high accuracy are called “Fine Ceramics” and are thus distinguished from conventional pottery. Fine ceramics can be defined as “ceramics with an adjusted chemical composition and crystal structure” that use a “carefully selected or synthesized base powder” and are produced with “carefully controlled forming and firing processes.”

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The history of ceramics - Earthenware and pottery

  • Ceramics were first used in ancient times for earthenware and bricks and the era of earthenware continued for several thousand years. However, these items were fired using open incineration, so they could only be fired at low temperatures of around 800 degrees Celsius. This meant that the finished product absorbed water, which was inconvenient for cooking.
  • This led to the arrival of pottery. A method of enclosing a fire was discovered and combustion furnaces with a reducing flame called Anagama kilns made it possible to fire at high temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. This made the pottery harder than the earthenware and also a glaze was applied, so water resistance was improved and the products were advanced in terms of beauty. The pottery in Japan was produced using techniques brought by potters from the Korean kingdom of Baekje.

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The history of ceramics - Stoneware

  • Stoneware can be described as a ceramic that is between pottery and porcelain. It was fired in large kilns at high temperatures of between 1,200 and 1,300 degrees Celsius, so the finished products were semi-porcelain that was baked hard and did not absorb water. Glaze was not generally used, but it is sometimes applied for decoration. In Japan, this was produced in large quantities from the Kamakura and Muromachi periods to the Azuchi–Momoyama period. It was produced in kilns in various places, including the “six old kilns.”

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The history of ceramics - Porcelain

  • Porcelain was fired in climbing kilns at a high temperature of between 1,300 and 1,400 degrees Celsius. It is made from a fine and white base material. It does not absorb water, it has a high degree of transparency and it is harder than pottery and stoneware. The arrival of porcelain that had a wide range of applications meant that ceramics had now reached the level of completion as vessels. Porcelain was first created in China and later had a great influence on Western countries. In Japan too, people who had come from the Korean Peninsula started to produce it in Arita at the beginning of the Edo period. Then, when the Chinese Ming Dynasty fell, porcelain from Japan took the place of that from China and was exported to the West in large amounts as “Imari ware.”

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Representative ingredients of Fine Ceramics

  • There are various different ingredients used to produce fine ceramics. These can be divided into oxide materials and non-oxide materials, depending upon the elements they are composed of. Fine ceramic product development using oxide ceramics began from a relatively early stage and these are now used widely in the electronics industry and other industrial fields. Products have also been developed using the non-oxide materials silicon nitride and silicon carbide as engineering ceramics. These are highly resistant to wear and shock at high temperatures and therefore are used especially as fine ceramics for structural components.

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Typical machining technologies for Fine Ceramics

  • One of the important manufacturing processes for fine ceramics is their forming.
    Extremely sophisticated techniques are required for the forming processes as parts must be formed with consideration of their contraction during the firing process and the accuracy of the dimensions resulting from this.
    In other words, what is important in the forming process is how to produce extremely accurate formed items that are materially uniform throughout and have no points of varied density.
  • Forming includes “extrusion molding,” in which materials that are given plasticity are pushed out of a particular mouthpiece to shape them, and “press forming,” in which a mold is filled with powder and then pressure is applied with upper and lower punches. There is also “injection molding,” in which a thermoplastic resin is added to the ingredients and the mixture is heated while it is injected into a mold to shape it, and “tape casting,” in which the ingredients are formed into a thin shape like paper.
  • Also, the range of applications for fine ceramics has been greatly expanded by adapting them to different uses with technologies to further polish and grind hard fine ceramics and process them precisely, and with metallization processing to apply a layer of metal to the surface of the ceramic.
  • In addition to polycrystalline products, there are also products which use a single crystal by first melting the fine ceramic and then recrystallizing it. There is also an expanding range of applications for fine ceramics that have a thin-film layer that is just several microns thick produced on a substrate.

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Fine Ceramics manufacturing process

  • First of all is the process to “prepare, mill and mix” high-purity ingredients in the ratio of components appropriate for the application. The equipment used includes ball mills and vibrating mills.
    When the ingredients have been made into a slurry, they are then sent to a “spray dryer.”
  • Spray dryer types include the “centrifugal rotary type” and the “pressure nozzle type.” This model is the pressure nozzle type. Pressure is applied to the slurry of raw ingredients to push it out of a nozzle and turn it into a mist. Heated air is then blown through this mist to instantaneously evaporate the moisture and dry it.
  • The types of “forming” processes include rubber pressing, press-forming, extrusion molding, injection molding and tape casting.
  • During the “firing process,” conditions are decided according to the intended purpose of the product.
    Three firing conditions controlled are the “temperature,” “time” and “atmosphere.”
  • Types of firing furnaces include independent firing furnaces, tunnel furnaces, reducing atmosphere furnaces, hot presses, vacuum sintering furnaces, HIP, pressurized atmosphere furnaces and others.
    “Hot presses” combine the molding and firing in one process, with pressure applied during the firing.
  • After the firing is complete, if necessary, precise grinding and polishing is performed.
  • In many of the polishing methods, a hard abrasive grain is used to polish by rubbing. There are also the lapping method and the polishing method, in which even smaller abrasive particles are used.
  • After this, processing such as ultrasonic machining, laser machining and wire polishing is performed when necessary, depending on the characteristics and application of the products.
    There may also be a metallizing process to form a metal layer on the surface of the ceramic or various kinds of joining and bonding to combine the ceramic with metal to fit the application.
  • Finally, reliability tests and inspections are performed regarding the performance and functionality required and then the item is complete.

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Characteristics of Fine Ceramics

  • This area enables you to learn about the various characteristics of fine ceramics. It includes videos that give a simple explanation of the mechanical, electrical, thermal, biochemical and other characteristics of fine ceramics and also has demonstration models that you can interact with to experience the characteristics of fine ceramics.
    We hope you will try out these demos to experience aspects such as the hardness and specific gravity of fine ceramics.

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U-shaped Kelcima - 1959

  • The “U-shaped Kelcima” was used as a ceramic part for television electron guns. Two years later, in 1961, we used different materials to develop a multi-form glass product for the same application and this product was used for many years.
    We also later developed products using alumina ceramics as ingredients. Alumina ceramics have superior characteristics and there has been much research carried out into possible applications for them. A representative example is the micro module substrate developed in 1960, which was used in applications such as communications equipment and computers.
  • The metallizing process was later used on the surface of these micro module substrates. This metallizing processing to bond ceramic and metal was a technology that dramatically widened the range of applications for ceramics to include electronic parts and parts for industrial machinery.

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Transistor beads - 1964

  • Transistor beads were used as a base for the insulation of the silicon transistors developed at the time in the U.S.
    Fine ceramics are very difficult materials to process, but their superior resistance to heat, insulation properties and air-tightness led to high-volume orders for 10 million and 20 million products.
    This product marked the start of the relationship between fine ceramics and semiconductors.

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Hybrid IC substrate - 1966

  • The hybrid IC substrate from Kyocera was selected for use as the substrate of the integrated circuit at the heart of IBM’s large-scale general-purpose computers.
    Kyocera’s product beat out those from other powerful manufacturers overseas and 25 million pieces were ordered by IBM. The specifications for the order received were extremely difficult, but the success in this product led to orders being received from major manufacturers other than IBM and the product became the driving force behind the growth and development of the company.

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Ceramic multilayer semiconductor package - 1970

  • With the proposal of the “IC” concept of integrated circuits of multiple transistors and diodes produced on a single silicon substrate, the CerDIP in 1967 and the fine ceramic multilayer package in 1970 were developed as containers to protect those ICs and make them function. In the development of these fine ceramic multilayer packages, it was necessary to develop several innovative technologies that greatly advanced the conventional fine ceramic technology.
  • At a glance these packages appear to be a single sheet of fine ceramic, but they are actually built up of multiple fine ceramic layers with circuits printed in conducting materials inserted between each of the layers.
    The technology to layer fine ceramic and metal and bake them hard together is extremely difficult, as the metal tends to burn and peeling and warping easily occurs. However, this product was finally produced by making repeated adjustments to the materials and the firing methods.
    One of the new technologies created in the development of these fine ceramic multilayer packages was tape layering technology. This technology is also applied to the manufacturing of laminated ceramic capacitors and ceramic heaters.

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CERATIP W - 1972

  • Ceramic tools dramatically improved on the performance of conventional tools as they can cut at high speeds with no reduction in strength and hardness at high temperatures, which are the characteristics necessary for the cutting of steel and cast iron.
    Furthermore, the Cermet compound of ceramic and metal developed in 1976 can withstand high temperatures, is hard and also has the characteristic fracture toughness of metals, so the brittleness of ceramic is also improved. The “CERATIP N” was the first product made using this material and was followed by the development of many new products that greatly expanded the range of application of ceramic tools.

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Recrystallized gemstones - 1974

  • We applied the crystallization technologies developed in fine ceramics to start our recrystallized gemstone cultivation business in 1974. Kyocera’s recrystallized emerald is produced using original technology to carefully recrystallize the gemstone over a long period of time from exactly the same materials as natural emeralds.
    In other words, the natural environment in which the gemstones are produced is reconstructed with the power of science. The crystals are then grown and the products produced are called “recrystallized gemstones.”

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Fine Ceramics for medical use - 1978

  • The business of fine ceramics for medical use was started in response to requests from the medical industry, which had taken note of the superior biocompatibility of fine ceramics. The work began from the development of artificial dental roots made of fine ceramics and was then expanded to the development of artificial bones and joints. Sales began from 1978 under the trademark BIOCERAM and many artificial joints were developed from the late 1980s into the 1990s, including those for knees, elbows, shoulders and ankles.

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Fine Ceramics also used widely in consumer products - 1984

  • In 1984, Kyocera developed scissors and then knives using fine ceramics.
    These products are made using zirconia, which has high fracture toughness. It was from around this time that the use of fine ceramics on everyday products began, including for scissors, ballpoint pens and wristwatch casing, and the range of applications was expanded.
    Today they are also used on kitchen products such as slicers and peelers.

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Fine Ceramics that were also used in gas turbine engines

  • Products made from silicon nitride materials were developed in 1981 as a result of the research that had been carried out up until that point.
  • Silicon nitride materials that have a strength that does not easily deteriorate at high temperatures and is resistant to shocks were used to develop products for gas turbine engines. Test operations were begun with ceramic used for parts such as combustors, scrolls and shrouds. Research into ceramics for diesel engines also began at this time and Kyocera successfully launched glow plugs in 1981 and hot plugs in 1983.
  • The engine exhibited here is an all-ceramic engine that has parts such as the pistons and cylinders produced from fine ceramics. It was actually mounted in a car and test runs were performed.
  • The gas turbine engine is the type of engine that can make the best use of the advantages of fine ceramics. It is a product that can contribute to global environmental protection as it has advantages over metal items in that the fuel consumption efficiency is superior and there is greater cleaning of the exhaust gas.

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Semiconductor industry and ceramic package history

  • The computers, the Internet and mobile communications that support our modern society all need semiconductors to operate. The advanced information-oriented society that we have today is supported by semiconductor technologies.
    The semiconductor industry has brought about a major industrial revolution that has completely changed the lifestyle of humankind in less than 50 years.
    Kyocera has continued to support the growth and development of the semiconductor industry through the development and supply of fine ceramic packages that protect various semiconductors and get better performance out of them.
    Here we look back on the history of the semiconductor industry which started in Silicon Valley in the U.S. and you can see the role played by fine ceramic packages from Kyocera.

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Kyocera’s ceramic integrated circuit package manufacturing process

  • The ingredients that have been made into a slurry in a ball mill are formed into a green sheet shaped like tape.
  • This green sheet is cut into a size that is easy to process and then fine micron level holes called through-holes are punched through with computer control.
  • Next, these through-holes are filled with a metal paste for the solid wiring.
  • Different circuits are printed on each green sheet using screen printing.
  • Many of these printed sheets are then placed on top of each other. This lamination technique using a multilayer construction is the most distinctive feature of ceramic multilayer packages.
  • Next, the laminated sheets are cut into the individual products.
  • These are baked and hardened for a long time in a reducing atmosphere furnace at a high temperature of around 1,600 degrees Celsius. The packages that have been fired are about two thirds the volume that they were before firing.
  • The packages are then nickel plated for brazing.
  • Metal pins for the electrical signals going in and out are then attached to the ceramic multilayer packages.
  • Nickel plating and then gold plating is performed and then the packages are cleaned.
  • Finally, vibration testing and reliability tests are performed and the products are complete.

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Silicon photoreceptor drums used in electronic copying machines and electronic printers - 1985

  • We had researched amorphous silicon as part of the development process for solar cells, for which research had been continuing since 1975, and we then applied this amorphous silicon to photoreceptor drums. These photoreceptor drums are built into the cores of printers and, as the life-span of the drums is extremely long, it is not necessary to replace them. This means that the printers place less burden on the environment and have extremely low running costs, as such these products are in use in great numbers around the world.
  • Thin-film processes have been applied and advanced for the development of input/output device products for information appliances, including thermal printheads, LED printheads, image sensors, STN liquid crystal displays and optical discs.

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Various electronic components selected for mobile telephone terminals - 1994

  • There was a remarkable expansion in the market for mobile communications equipment such as mobile phones and PHS at this time. The electronic components used in these mobile telephone terminals were developed at a rapid pace that exceeded the conventional speed of development and they were made more compact and given thinner profiles and surface mounting.
  • From 1990 onwards, Kyocera developed components for miniaturization such as the voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO) that are at the heart of devices, temperature compensated crystal oscillators (TCXO), dielectric filters and SAW filters. In order to make this miniaturization possible, we also further promoted high-density wiring and high-density mounting technologies for the ceramic circuit substrates.

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ECU modules - 2000

  • As electronic control in vehicles increased, the demand for fine ceramic components for automobiles also increased. In addition to the engine components that were already in use such as glow plugs and heaters, there were also expanding applications for electronic components such as substrates, packages and capacitors used in electronic control units (ECU) and power module substrates for motors. This product is an ECU module that has various electronic components mounted on a fine ceramic substrate.

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Multilayer piezo element - 2006

  • The fine ceramics that were the starting point for Kyocera are now attracting attention as environmentally friendly materials that can contribute to the protection of the environment.
    Multilayer piezo element made with the application of fine ceramics are used in diesel engines for automobiles. By precisely controlling the fuel injection, they eliminate waste and limit the emission of toxic substances contained in the exhaust gases to a minimum.

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Inkjet printheads - 2012

  • There is a trend in the clothing and fashion industry towards fast fashion, in which the latest trends are continually incorporated and items are sold in short cycles. This is leading to increasing demand for textile printing, in which the fabric is printed without the need for plates.
    Kyocera was already mass producing the fastest inkjet printheads in the world and further advanced these products in 2012 to develop a printhead that can print two colors simultaneously at high resolutions.
    This new product reduces the number of printheads and components necessary and contributes to equipment downsizing. It is also attracting attention due to the reduced burden on the environment it achieves because the waste liquid generated with the conventional printing methods is reduced.

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World’s thinnest piezo film speaker - 2013

  • In 2013, Kyocera developed the world’s thinnest piezo film speaker by combining a resin film and a piezoelectric element developed using original fine ceramic technologies.
    A piezoelectric element is an application of the properties of some fine ceramics, which bend and vibrate when electricity is applied to them. A sound is generated by precisely controlling this vibration.
    When compared to conventional electromagnetic speakers, these speakers are not only thinner and lighter, but they also have wider sound directivity and faster response speeds, so they can produce highly realistic and high-quality sound.

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Fine Ceramics help expand the boundaries of scientific research

  • Among other characteristics, fine ceramic components have superior strength, airtightness, corrosion resistance and thermal resistance. Fine ceramic technology is used in various extreme environments. This includes use on the terminals of the lithium-ion battery in the “Hayabusa” asteroid probe that safely returned to Earth in 2010 and marked a new step forward in space research; use in ceramic packages for Japan’s “K” supercomputer; and use in the pressure-resistant containers supporting deep-sea earthquake observation at a depth of 11,000 meters.

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