The clay does not last forever and, with limited deposits and high market demands, the best clay is very expensive. What would an endless source of raw material do to the prices of decorative tiles? Let's think about it and ask ourselves, how do the prices on high-quality clay dictate the market? Understanding this, might make us more open to the idea of doing things differently, be less dependent on expensive clay, thus reducing your production costs.
As you know, February is a key month for ceramics in Spain. This year both Cevisama and Qualicer took place and we could foresee what the future of ceramics will look like. Like the previous years, large sizes and high definition printing continue to reign. However we could also see a growing concern towards more sustainable ceramics and the first steps towards the famous Industry 4.0. So, what are the main trends we could see there?
Large, thin tiles have become great trend in the ceramic industry and lately the market has responded with higher demands for those sizes. However, manufacturing these big slabs involves some big challenges. The difficulties tile makers face when producing these sizes are related to the mechanics of the tile, the manufacturing methods and the raw materials. One of the greatest challenges has been the conflicts in Ukraine, where most of the clay to manufacture these types of tiles comes from. This has affected significantly the market pricing.
A tile’s strength is a numerical representation of how much weight the tile can support before breaking. The results are expressed in N and they may be converted into kg/cm2 using the dimensions of each tile. We are going to go over some methods that can be used to determine a tile’s strength.
Ceramic tiles may present some issues during their manufacturing process. Most of them do not have an origin in the process itself, but in the raw materials used in the production line. A proper control in the raw materials and in the process will minimize the potential risks of producing second class materials.
In a competitive market like we have in ceramics in the last years, globalized, with common solutions to the standard production issues, differentiation in costs is the only way to remain competitive. So, how much could we save?
Decorative ceramics are characterized by fast firing cycles with values below 30 minutes in some countries. Of course this is not the standard value, but it gives an idea of how well adapted these kilns are to fast firing. At the same time, being one of the main polluting points in decorative ceramics manufacturing process, lots of efforts have been dedicated in order to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as some other highly pollutants (NOx, HCl, HF, heavy metals, Sox, VOCs, among others).
The next challenge in the horizon will be automation, though a lot of improvements have been done in order to bring self-regulation and high optimization of the full firing process.
Decoration in ceramics has experienced a number of changes in the last decades. We have seen some hand-made decoration replaced by automated systems when higher production rates were demanded. Flat screens evolved to automated rotating screens, allowing higher production rates and better application results. With an intermediate solution based on gravure silicon rollers, most of the factories today are using inkjet technology.
Last week we were lucky enough to visit one of the most important ceramic events in Spain, Cevisama, where we could foresee what the future of ceramics will look like. During 5 days, manufacturers exhibit their products, where large sizes and high definition printing continue to reign. So, what are the main trends we could see there?
We're getting very close towards the end of the year and inspired by the Christmas lights and the chilly weather we have decided to make a "Question of the Month - Christmas Edition". In this special edition we have gathered all of the questions received during the year to prepare a Top 5 FAQs regarding clay conditioners. Are you curious about clay conditioners? Keep reading!