New pressure casting and fast firing processes
are rapidly replacing more conventional methods for ceramics production,
especially in the dinnerware sector. The new processes are more
streamlined and therefore less tedious, and they can be automated,
reducing time lags to a minimum, but they have yet to be applied
in the production of larger ceramic parts like sanitaryware.
The aim of this project was to understand
better the performance requirements of raw materials for the new
ceramics manufacturing processes known as automated pressure casting
and fast curing. Work consisted of developing casting slips and
filtering support adapted to the new production methods. Clays and
kaolin were studied and the casting and firing processes were assessed
using the developed raw materials. The project established the mineral
characteristics best-suited to the applications in question.
Cost savings are substantial for the manufacturing
partner, as the firing of 20% lighter end-products require less
energy. The significant reduction in costs will allowed production
to remain in Europe rather than moving to countries with lower labour
costs. For the raw material supplier, the gains are in the ability
to understand better end-user needs and to evolve towards the supply
of better formulations.