Ceramic tiles have been around for millenniums, decorating countless homes and other buildings around the world. While the principle remains the same, the actual production line has evolved significantly with advancing technology. Below is one of the common ways in which ceramic tiles are produced.
Step 1. Raw materials for ceramic tiles
First, a series of raw materials must be collected. Common materials used to produce ceramic tiles include white clay, talc, sand, feldspar, illitic and kaolinitic clay, dolomite and calcite and they are quarried and refined. The materials are brought to the manufacturing plant and stored separately.
Step 2. Mixing and Forming
Next, raw materials are mixed in specific proportions by weight. The specified mixture is achieved by varying the speed of each conveyer before the master conveyer gathers all materials together for the next process. The conveyer then dumps the mixture into a storage tank which is then fed into a series of mixing tanks with water and ceramic pellets to form a liquid material called slurry.
The slurry is then temporarily stored in large tanks before it’s fed into an atomizer. The atomizer has a nozzle which sprays the slurry into the middle of it. Helped by a current of hot air, the slurry becomes airborne and quickly dries to form atomized powder.
The atomized powder is then released in measured quantities into a tray which distributes the powder evenly into a mould. A large hydraulic press then applies a force of 300-400kg/cm2. The powder is turned into a solid mass by high pressure and residual moisture. Formed pieces are dried further to remove most of the remaining moisture. This guarantees that the product will come out of the kiln in a consistent quality, free of physical weaknesses or defects.
Step 3. Glazing
Glazing and screening serve both practical and artistic purposes, allowing the tile to gain aesthetic beauty, water repellence, durability and for hygienic properties. First, roller screens are used to apply a design and colour. To achieve greater design variation, an extra roller screen can be added to the line.
Before the final formulation is accepted, numerous test runs may be made to verify the quality of the finish, trueness of the design and colour definition. A glaze is essentially a glass like substance and it is applied to the surface of a tile by varying methods such as by spray, waterfall, screening or dry glazing methods.
Step 4. Firing
After the glaze is applied, the tile is fired in a kiln. There are different types of kilns but a Roller Hearth Kiln is by far the most efficient for its outstanding temperature uniformity, cleanliness and heat efficiency. Temperatures in this type of kiln can reach as high as 1190 degrees Celsius. Kilning solidifies the glaze and removes all residual moisture in the ceramic. This completes the manufacturing stage for ceramic tiles.
Step 5. Quality Check
To ensure quality, the finished product goes through inspections, checking for any imperfections. Calibre, shade and quality are checked by mechanical and human means. Information about each tile is used to sort and box the ceramic tiles accordingly. Boxes are labelled with the quality, shade and calibre specifications and placed on the appropriate pallet ready for dispatching.
The evolution of technology means more consistency and added aesthetic appeal to tiles. Why not consider using tiles for your next project. TFO has all your tiling needs covered at Sydney’s lowest prices.