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Step #1: Milling & Raw Material Procurement – The raw materials used in the process are milled materials typically found in mining sites that have been reduced from a large size to smaller sizes or even in some cases, pulverized depending upon the end product. The idea is to liberate any impurities in the materials allowing for better mixing and forming which in essence produces a more reactive material when firing.
Step #2: Sizing – During this step in the processing sequence, the materials that have undergone the milling and procurement process must be sized to separate desirable material from non-usable. By controlling the particle size, the result will give you proper bonding and a smooth surface on the finished product. Multiple mesh sizes are available. Screen deck sizes vary depending on slurry thickness and the percentage of the solids present in the mix.
Step #3: Batching – This part of the process can also be known as”blending” which calculates amounts, weighing and initial blended of the raw materials. For consistent material flow into a pub mill hopper, Vibratory Feeders can be applied in the process Though EMF Models are not typically used in dusty, hazardous environments, they can be fit with explosion proof Rotary Electric Vibrators to handle a larger load capacity.
Step #4: Mixing – To obtain a more chemically and physically homogeneous material prior to forming, the constituents of the ceramic powder is combined using the method of mixing or blending. It is also important to add binders or plasticizers as well. For wet slurry mixtures, a filter press would remove the water from the slurry and yield the clay body from the mix.
Step #5: Forming – For this step, the materials such as dry powders, pastes or slurries are consolidated and molded to produce a cohesive body of whatever end product is desired. In the particular case of dry forming, vibratory compaction can be used to achieve the desired shape. Simply providing the weight of the mold/materials and scale of the mold as well should help make the selection of proper vibratory compaction table relatively easy.
Step #6: Drying – The formed materials hold water and binder in its mix that can in turn cause shrinkage, warping or distortion of the product. Generally convection drying is the most commonly used method in which heated air is circulated around the ceramic piece that alleviates the risk of such imperfections in the final product.
Step #7: Glazing – This step is added to the process prior to firing. Typically, the glaze consists of oxides that give the product the desired finish look. The raw materials are ground in a ball mill or attrition mill. We have provided customers with Vibratory Screeners that screened the glaze in order to give the mixture a uniform consistency that when applied to the ceramic, would be smooth and even. The glaze can be applied using the spraying or dipping methods.
Step #8: Firing – Also known as densification, the ceramics pass through a controlled heat process where the oxides are consolidated into a dense, cohesive body made up of uniform grain. Some general points to remember about different types of firing end products: Short Firing Time gives you a final product that is porous and low density.
Short – Intermediate Firing Time results in fine-grained, high-strength products. Long Firing Time produces a coarse-grained product that is creep resistant which means the material will not distort when under a load for an extended period of time.
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