Advances in Kiln Furniture Increases Energy Efficiency

Most advanced kiln furniture systems increase energy efficiency, reduce production time and improve general manufacturing process for ceramic manufacturers worldwide.

A number of new systems have appeared on the market over the past few years.

These new product developments include lightweight systems, non-stick ceramic body and a process for producing low thermal mass, high strength products.

With increasing fuel prices and the endless need to increase the production yields, efforts towards developing lighter weight kiln furniture has increased significantly over the past few years, especially in the bone china industry, where the ratio of the refractory-to-ware is normally very high.

Developments include a new material, combining standard cordierite / mullite formulations with lightweight refractory aggregate, providing up to 40% savings in refractory weight.

This weight reduction allows shorter firing cycles and increase fuel savings for china manufacturers and other kiln furniture users. The refractory body was developed to provide excellent thermal shock resistance and to give a low flexible thermal expansion to ensure a long refractory life.

Another innovation has lately been established for tableware manufacturers, who usually fire their biscuit ware on alumina-coated cordierite kiln furniture. The alumina coating inhibits the bisc ware from sticking to the furniture, however, regular re coating is usually required. Depending on the desired quality of the pieces being fired, some manufacturers might have to renew their kiln furniture every 20 to 25 cycles or more to give their bisc ware an acceptable kiln furniture surface during the firing process. The furniture may also need to be cleaned before recoating. This results in an inefficient labor-intensive process that reduces manufacturers' production abilities.

A new non-stick, high-alumina ceramic body has been developed for cup chums and profile setters. This new material can eliminate the necessity of washing and recoating the furniture components between firing, saving manufacturers' time, wear and tear.

Unlike traditional alumina bodies, the high-alumina body of the new kiln furniture was modified so that the reversible thermal expansion closely matches that of typical tableware bodies. This change prevents the ware from sticking and increases the furniture's durability. The main benefits are indeed the savings in labor, downtime and material costs that can be achieved with the non-stick furniture.

Recognizing the need for more durable, thinner and lighter weight refractories in the ceramic industry, researchers have devoted great efforts to advancing the way in which the product is made in an effort to meet these needs. This has resulted in a new kiln furniture manufacturing process that provides increased refractory homogenization with a significant improvement in strength. This process involves mixing the ceramic powders in a polymer carrier, then processing that formula under very high shear. In addition to increasing refractory strength, the process provides a 20% improvement in creep resistance.

Kiln furniture made using this new process provides benefits in both primary and secondary applications.

Using this kind of process, the refractory thickness can be reduced but still maintain the same level of strength. This will provide ergonomic benefits, fuel savings and time savings in the firing cycle, as well as other benefits.

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