The last week of September you could visit two of the most exciting Ceramic exhibitions in the world. This year, we visited both Cersaie and Tecnargilla and we could appreciate some interesting trends in the clay and the decorative tile market.
For many years, bentonite has been introduced in ceramic bodies to enhance plasticity in an economic way. However, its use in ceramics is not only bringing advantages but also some inconveniences related to its ability to increase plasticity. Its layer structure is responsible for these properties.
New aesthetics aligned with new technical requirements in the extrusion of ceramic bodies are demanding a new approach when it comes to additives’ requirements. In the past, lubrication and proper rheology were highly appreciated, but today there are other properties that should be taken into consideration if defects such as cracks, laminations, scumming, etc. can’t appear along the process, mainly due to the higher technical requirements of the raw materials.
It has been agreed by a lot of people that this edition has been the best so far, at least along this century. Lots of new products, designs and all of them below a new sustainability umbrella that is the new flagship of the industry.
Bentonite has been used in ceramics for many years due to the way it performs in terms of plasticity and workability. Nonetheless, there are some alternative approaches that may ease its replacement, as they show some undesirable side effects when introduced into formulations.
The pressing stage is one of the most demanding in the production of ceramic bodies. Therefore, gaining any improvements here is directly translated into savings along the production process. These improvements will help to optimize the total costs of the manufactured products by reducing losses whilst improving the quality of the shaped materials.
One of the main challenges of the Ceramic Industry is related to the lack of good quality plastic clays. Though there are many reliable sources, its cost is banning industrial usages, especially in a moment when tiles are becoming larger and larger. Furthermore, if we consider how market is moving towards higher performance requirements, this situation is not showing any ways of changing
Clay body formulation has been in a continuous evolution since the modern-day tile industry trended towards large and more aesthetic in appearance. This evolution is calling for adjustments to achieve required performances whilst optimizing production costs.
The clay does not last forever and, with limited deposits and high market demands, the best clay is very expensive. Add to that the conflict in Crimea, where the Russian occupation has choked the supply of cheap Ukrainian high-quality clay, and you face a situation where lack of supply has caused the raw material prices to increase five times since the manufacturers started using it. This is, of course, critical for the industry, but the forward leaning manufacturers go looking for alternative sources.
Having a less fragile clay body after the tile is pressed is not only down to buying expensive high plasticity clay. There are workarounds to increase the Ceramic Green Strength without emptying your pockets. Read on to find a solution that fits your production.