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
how plastic is your formulation?
This is the main question ceramic tile manufacturers have in their minds when new products come into action. Of course it’s not the only parameter to consider when creating new formulas, but as long as it has a huge influence on the final tile quality, it will be one of the key points to keep in mind when new formulas or new raw materials are used in the production sites.
Non-Plastic clays availability.
There are many clay sources which are widely available and very well known in the ceramic sector, but their lack of plasticity does not allow technicians to use them in formulations. Of course, being able to use them is a key parameter, especially when financial considerations come into action – most of these clays are not far away from production sites.
It may also happen that some other properties of the non-plastic clays bring some special feature to the formula, like refractoriness, whiteness, etc. Those cases are very particular and create a specific need, as their particularities make them almost “mandatory”, demanding some additives that have to cover their lack of performance in some other parameters, like plasticity.
Use of plasticity enhancers.
Whenever there is a lack of plasticity, whether by a lack of plasticity of the available clays or by some technical requirement that limits plastic clays usages, there is a potential introduction of plasticity enhancers.
There have been several discussions about the convenience of using such additives, as long as some of them are expensive or present some side-effects, as a consequence of its introduction in the formula. Today we can say that the market has a lot of different options, being able to use inorganic compounds and the most extended organic plasticizers. In most of the cases, these organic compounds present the best cost: effectiveness ratio and one of the main reasons for its wide implementation in the ceramic tile industry.
Being the most used? organic compounds can also be eco-friendly if “green” chemistry is required within the industry. In this particular case, wood-based biopolymers are one of the main alternatives, as long as they represent an actual alternative to the “black” chemistry, based on oil.
In a world that is becoming more conscious about this fact the possibility of sourcing the best cost/effective solution whilst contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint is becoming one of the best options both economically and environmentally available to the industry.