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Manufacturing Details
 

The ceramic tile manufacturing process consists of the following successive stages.

Raw materials preparation
Pressing and drying of the green body
Firing, with or without glazing
Sorting and packing

Raw materials preparation
The ceramic process starts by selecting the raw materials required for the body composition, which consists of  mainly clays, feldspars, sands, carbonates and kaolins. In the traditional ceramic industry, the raw materials are generally used as-mined or after some minor treatment. As natural raw materials are involved, preliminary homogenisation is required in most cases to ensure consistent characteristics.

 

Pressing and drying of the green body
In this body preparation stage, the water and raw materials making up the body composition are closely mixed to a consistent paste that is readily mouldable by extrusion.

Dry pressing
Dry pressing (at 5-7% moisture content) with hydraulic presses is the most common tile forming method. Forming takes place by mechanically compressing the paste in the die and is one of the most cost-efficient forming methods for making ceramic ware with a regular geometry.

Extrusion
Tile forming by extrusion processes basically consists of putting the plastic body through a die that produces a constant tile cross section.

After forming, the tile body is dried to reduce the moisture content to appropriately low levels for the firing and eventual glazing stages.

Firing, with or without glazing
Firing is one of the most important tile manufacturing process stages as most tile characteristics depend on it. These include mechanical strength, dimensional stability, chemical resistance, cleanability, fire resistance, etc.

The main variables to be considered in the firing stage are the thermal cycle and kiln atmosphere, which must be adapted to each composition and manufacturing technology, according to the ceramic product to be made.

Single and twice fire Ceramic materials can undergo one, two or more firings. The unglazed ceramic tiles are fired once; glazed tiles can be fired once after applying the glaze to the green tile (single -firing process), or the body may be fired first, followed by glaze application and subsequent second firing. There may sometimes be an additional drying stage after glazing. This occurs just before the material is placed in the kiln to reduce tile water moisture content to low enough levels for the firing stage to be carried out properly.

Glazing

Glazing involves applying one or more coats of glaze with a total thickness of 75-500 microns onto the tile surface by different methods. Glazing is done to provide the fired product with a series of technical and aesthetical properties such as impermeability, cleanability, gloss, colour, surface texture, and chemical and mechanical resistance.

Sorting and packing
The ceramic tile manufacturing process ends with sorting and packing. Sorting is done by automatic systems with mechanical equipment and tile surface inspection. The result is a controlled product with regard to dimensional regularity, surface appearance and mechanical and chemical characteristics.

Parametres

Standard or Premium: tile that passes all the minimum standards and will pass the visual examination at a distance of 3 feet.

Commercial or Seconds
: will pass the minimum standards and visual examination at 10 feet.  

Culls
: tiles that do not pass at all and are discarded or not used for their intended purpose

 
 
 
 
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