This study aimed to optimize the crystallization process and the microstructure of a new bioactive glass-ceramic (GC) previously developed by our research group to obtain machinable glass-ceramics.
Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) analyses were conducted to explore the characteristic temperatures and construct a semi-quantitative nucleation curve. The GC specimens were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Rietveld refinement. Their brittleness index (B) and machinability were characterized and compared with IPS e.max-CAD®. Their Young’s modulus, fracture toughness, and hardness were assessed.
We found that the maximum crystal nucleation rate temperature of this GC is ~470 °C. Treatments were designed based on the 1st DSC peak onset (570 °C), 1st peak offset (650 °C), and 2nd peak offset (705 °C) crystallization temperatures of lithium metasilicate (LS, LiSiO) and lithium disilicate (LS2, LiSiO). Rietveld refinement indicated an increase in LS2 and a reduction in LS and amorphous phase for increased temperatures and longer treatment times. Their B values indicate good machinability compared with that of the control group based on statistical analyses. As expected, lower levels of LS2 increase the machinability regardless of the rotation speed adopted, leading to a greater depth of cut and reduced Edge Chipping Damage Depth (ECDD).
This bioactive GC with optimized microstructure presents high machinability. For treatment temperatures above 570 °C, the number of elongated LS2 crystals increases and decreases the amorphous phase content, which reduce the machinability of the GC, and should therefore be avoided. The best results were obtained using heat treatment at 570 °C, which produces LS crystals embedded in a glassy matrix (67%) with small contents of secondary phases.

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