What Does Ceramic Mean?

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Ceramic refers to any of various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature.  Bricks, pipes, refractories, tableware, cookware and pottery products belong to this group.

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The word ceramic is derived from the Greek word keramikos, meaning "potter's earth, or pottery". The term means inorganic non-metallic materials whose formation is a result of the action of heat. Up until the 1950s or so, the most important of these were the traditional clays, made into pottery, bricks, tiles and the like, along with cements and glass. The traditional crafts are described in the article on pottery. A composite material of ceramic and metal is known as cermet. The word ceramic can be an adjective, and can also be used as a noun to refer to a ceramic material, or a product of ceramic manufacture. Ceramics is a singular noun referring to the art of making things out of ceramic materials. Historically, ceramic products have been hard, porous and brittle. The study of ceramics consists to a large extent of methods to mitigate these problems, and accentuate the strengths of the materials, as well as to offer up unusual uses for these materials.

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