Manufacturing ceramic tiles
Tiles are made from basic components that are readily available from Mother Earth. Raw materials such as sand, white clays, feldspar oolitic and kaolin etic clays, calcite and dolomite are quarried and refined using heavy construction
The raw materials are brought to the plant where they are stored prior to mixing. They are then placed in holding areas classified by type using a simple numeric reference system.
The raw materials are mixed in specific proportions by weight. The specified mixture is achieved by varying the speed of the conveyors that feed a master conveyor. The conveyor dumps the mixture of raw materials into a storage tank.
The mixture 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 transferred to large underground storage tanks then fed into an atomizer.
The atomizer is equipped with a nozzle. The nozzle sprays the slurry into the middle of a large tank that is fed with
a current of hot air. As the slurry becomes airborne it rapidly dries to form atomized powder. The atomized powder
is fed into a holding vet just behind the press.
The vat releases measured quantities of atomized powder into a tray which distributes the powder evenly
into the mold. A force of 340 to 400 kilograms per square centimeter is applied using a large hydraulic press.
The combination of high pressure and residual moisture turns the powder into a solid mass.
After the body is formed it is dried further to remove most of the remaining moisture, it is important to
remove the moisture in order to keep the product stable during the cooking
process in the kiln.
This guarantees that the product will come out of the kiln, as a solid homogeneous material free of physical weaknesses or defects.
Tiles are placed in temporary storage bins at various stages of the production process, until their required.
There are four different stages, this also allows time to adjust and repair equipment.
Glazing and screening serve both a practical and artistic purpose. They form an important part of the finished product because they provide aesthetic beauty water-repellent, durability and hygienic properties too.
The tile roller screens are commonly used to apply design and the tile greater design variation can be achieved by adding roller screens to the line. Numerous test runs can be made to verify the quality of finish, trueness of design and color definition before the final formulation is qualified and accepted.
Glaze is essentially a glass-like substance and is applied to the surface of the tile by spray, waterfall screening
or dry glazing methods. After the glaze is applied the tile is fired in the kiln.
There are different types of kilns but the roller hearth kiln seen here is by far the most efficient.
Temperatures in this type of kiln can reach as high as 1190 Celsius.
The kiln solidifies the glaze and removes all residual moisture in the ceramic.
At this point we basically have the final product. To ensure quality the finished product is inspected and verified for any imperfections. Caliber, shade and quality are validated by mechanical and human means. The information about each tile is used to sort and box the material accordingly.
Boxes are marked with the quality shade and caliber specifications and placed on
the appropriate pallet. Once the pallets are stacked they are placed in the yard, ready to be shipped.
In the development of ceramic lines we have learned a great deal about tile we hope that by
sharing with you, we have also shared the passion we have for the products.