Plasma spraying, commonly used for wear and heat resistant barriers, can be used to produce free-standing bulk ceramic parts as well. In this work the microstructure and phase development of a bulk plasma-sprayed alumina material with about 14 % porosity and splat like grains is investigated in the as-sprayed and various annealed material conditions, using electron microscopic and x-ray diffraction techniques. The fracture characteristics are investigated using standard CT specimens in in-situ SEM experiments. The mechanical response of the material is clearly a result of two features: the pronounced alignment of microstructure itself, and the occurrence of a splat-internal microcrack sub-structure in the as-sprayed condition. This microcrack substructure is a consequence of a splat internal columnar subgrain structure which occurs as a result of the rapid cooling conditions on deposition. The morphology of this subgrain structure and its phase composition is seen to change extensively on annealing. It is found that the mechanical behaviour of the as sprayed material is dominated by this internal subgrain structure, but the behaviour of sufficiently annealed material is dominated by the morphology and mechanical stability of the splat like grains themselves. The biggest change on annealing is not an overall sintering effect, but rather the recrystallisation of the splat internal substructure

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