Ceramic Tiles Explained
What are Ceramics Made Of?
Ceramics are among the most versatile and ancient materials, with a history dating back thousands of years. They have been utilised in everything from pottery and sculptures to cutting-edge technology like electronics and spacecraft. But what exactly is ceramic made of? Let's delve into the composition and creation process of ceramics.
The Basic Components of Ceramics
At its most basic level, ceramic is made from clay. However, it's not just any common garden-variety clay. The clay used in ceramics typically comes from specific types of decomposed rock, particularly feldspar. Feldspar is the most abundant mineral on the earth's crust, and when it breaks down, it forms a product known as "kaolinite," the primary ingredient in most clays.
Clay for ceramics also often includes other materials, such as silica and ball clay, which help to give the ceramic its shape and structure. These materials are mixed with water to create a malleable substance that can be shaped into virtually anything you can imagine.
The Ceramic Creation Process
Creating ceramics is a multi-step process that involves shaping, drying, firing, glazing, and re-firing.
1. Shaping: The clay is shaped into the desired form. This can be done by hand or using a potter’s wheel or mould.
2. Drying: The shaped clay is left to dry. This process removes the water from the clay, preparing it for firing.
3. Firing: The dried clay is put into a kiln, where it's heated to extremely high temperatures, usually between 1,000 and 1,600 degrees Celsius. This process, called firing, hardens the clay and changes it into a material known as "bisque."
4. Glazing: After the first firing, the bisque is often coated in a glaze, which can add colour, texture, and finish to the ceramic piece. The glaze also helps to make the ceramic waterproof.
5. Re-firing: The glazed ceramic is put back into the kiln for a second firing. This firing melts the glaze, fusing it to the bisque and creating the final ceramic product.
While traditional ceramics find their roots in clay and very ancient processes, the evolution of ceramics has led to the emergence of advanced ceramics techniques, crafted from new diverse raw materials such as recycled or bio-based materials, as well as new innovative manufacturing techniques.
At Materials Assemble, we continuously explore innovative techniques, such as pioneering glazes that facilitate the use of recycled materials and metals. We are also exploring innovative ways of producing ceramics without the need for cooking, aiming to minimise the carbon footprint of our ceramics.
In conclusion, ceramics are incredibly versatile materials with a wide range of uses. Whether it's an earthenware pot or a high-tech ceramic component, the fundamental process involves shaping a material and then hardening it with heat. Despite their ancient origins, ceramics continue to be a vital part of modern life, demonstrating the enduring value of this remarkable material.
Bespoke Ceramic Tiles
Materials Assemble presents an extensive array of 3D tiles characterised by a diverse spectrum of colours, effects, and finishes. In the event that our standard shapes do not align with your preferences, we proudly extend our comprehensive bespoke service. Our skilled artisans stand ready to meticulously craft a myriad of shapes, sizes, colours, effects, and finishes tailored to your exact specifications.