Ceramic Tiles Industry and Technology, Technological Advancement and the Evolution

The industry and technology world of ceramic tiles is so vast. One aspect is the technological advancement and the evolution in recent decades.

According to the technical standard ISO 13006, ceramic tiles are divided into three groups based on their ability to absorb water:

Group I (b3%), Group II (3-10%), and Group III (N10%). Groups I and II are further subdivided into two subgroups each at the water absorption.

thresholds of 0.5% and 6%, respectively. The group code contains a letter that denotes the method used for shaping: A for extrusion and B for pressing.

In contrast, tile marketing is based on the intended use, which is primarily for flooring and Group III wall coverings (Groups I and IIa).

Tiles are differentiated based on the body color in addition to the end usage (a different product value is usually assumed for colored and colorless bodies).

It results in a patchwork of names that are difficult to understand because the nomenclature has some connection to the tilemaking method and/or the ceramic material that makes up the product (Table 2).

The lines below contrast body hue (which is largely dependent on iron oxide content) and body compactness to depict tile products that result from the aforementioned commercial and standard difficulties (expressed as typical values of water absorption).

It is evident that standard groups are not uniformly filled, as evidenced by the quantity of products (which is significantly higher in Groups III and I) or the hue of the bodies (Group II is essentially represented by red bodies, while in Group BIa there are exclusively colorless bodies).

Production of ceramic tilesCurrently, ceramic tiles can be made either dryly or wetly. The objectives of this work are too broad to include a thorough overview of tile manufacture.

In any case, the following provides a brief overview of technology and its development in light of the five fundamental steps (Various Authors, 2000–2008); some pertinent elements are listed in Table 2:

1) body preparation involving wet ball milling or dry grinding of raw materials and powder agglomeration by spray drying (wet route) or granulation (dry route); 2) tile shaping primarily.

by dry pressing, though extrusion is also used; 3) tile drying by fast cycles in vertical or horizontal driers; 4) tile glazing and decoration by a wide range of technological solutions; and 5) tile firing by fast cycles in roller kilns (rarely chamber or tunnel furnaces).

End-of-line treatments (such as tile polishing, cutting, or functionalization) and additional stages may be present, while others may be moved along the flow-chain (e.g., decoration can be performed during shaping).

The technical advancement that has fundamentally altered every stage of processing over the last six decades is a crucial point, as it can be seen in

Body preparation has improved for a very long period, commencing with the introduction of the wet approach, which involved.

mostly substituting spray driers and ball mills for traditional hammer mills and granulators as well as moving from discontinuous.

to continuous before switching to modular mills. Recent developments in adaptable and more effective roller and pendular mills as well as new generation granulation devices have significantly improved the dry route as well.

By switching from mechanical to hydraulic presses, which have been progressively developed to become more powerful and dependable devices capable of producing even large-size slabs, tile shaping has greatly benefited. New technologies for shaping (such dieless pressing).

came into use specifically for low thickness and huge size, like 3×1 m slabs of 3 mm thick material. Extrusion has lately been revived to produce large slabs using cutting-edge wet technology.

In the last ten years, multichannel horizontal driers and even hybrid solutions with infrared heating have gradually replaced the outdated chamber plants used for tile drying.

Tile glazing still uses traditional application methods (by bell, disk, or doctor blade) despite increased automation, improvement, and addition.

of dry applications. The use of digitalized systems is eventually anticipated. Traditional screen printing on tiles was replaced by silicon roller printing and soluble salts before ink-jet printing recently became more popular.

The ability to fire ceramics quickly has been progressively enhanced thanks to the development of roller kilns (#20), which have superseded.

tunnel furnaces and the earliest varieties of fast firing facilities, such as plates or pegs kilns. The sections of roller kilns have progressively gotten larger, more multichannel, and capable of operating at greater temperatures (up to 1250 °C). Moving closer to hybrid furnaces—those powered by both energy and methane—is the next stage.

Technological advancement and the evolution of ceramic bodies

The usage of raw materials has been significantly impacted by technological progress, thus understanding the changes that have occurred in the formulation of bodies over the past 60 years requires a thorough understanding of the development of ceramic tile technology.

The historical development of ceramic tiles can be used to understand product and process innovation, mostly using data from the Sassuolo district in Italy, which is at the forefront of this industry’s technological advancement, and the Castellón district in Spain, with some temporal gaps.

In fact, only a few varieties of ceramic tiles were available after World War II (Singer and Singer, 1963): primarily porous and glazed wall tiles.

(white body: calcareous earthenware; red body: majolica), while floor tiles were unglazed goods primarily intended for industrial and outdoor applications:

stoneware in its variants (red or white) produced by extrusion (klinker, rustic cotto), or dry pressing (terracotta) (red stoneware and fine stoneware).

The creation of cottoforte, a glazed porous tile appropriate for flooring, which shifted the production toward floor tiles, was the primary product innovation throughout the 1960s.

Fast firing in roller kilns was introduced as a result of the severe energy crisis that hit the ceramic industry in the 1970s, which gradually transformed the entire tile-making process into a new technology (involving wet milling N spray drying N dry pressing N fast drying and firing).

Aside from being far more adaptable and energy-efficient, this unique technique was found to be unable to process the traditional body formulations (such as majolica, earthenware, and stoneware), forcing significant alterations to batch compositions.

This finally led to the development of new goods using an empirical methodology: monoporosa (produced by quick single fire).

and later birapida (produced by fast double fire) replaced majolica or earthenware and currently rule the market for porous tiles.

White birapida emerged from calcareous earthenware, just as red monoporosa/birapida did from majolica, but oddly, white monoporosa was created beginning with stoneware formulas.

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