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"wet" firing tiles

updated sat 27 apr 02


Longtin, Jeff on fri 26 apr 02

A few years back I met a guy who worked in a commercial tile factory and he
explained to me how they make tiles. Not quite fired wet but close enough.
The dry powdered clay is compressed under great pressure into flat sheets.
This compression does two things, first, it forces the chemical water out
of the molecules (if my memory serves me right) and second, this compression
forces the particles to bond to each other. This also produces a clay tile
that is free of a grain. If you've ever tried to cut a tile you'll know how
beneficial that quality is!
Being free of grain the tiles are also less prone to warping.
After this compression the tiles can be fired immediately, as the tiles, at
this point, are basically dry.
Apparently the tile industry stopped using "wet" clay years ago.
Commercial tiles, if you don't know, are fired in tunnel kilns. The tiles
roll on a conveyor belt through the kiln under electrical elements and over
the course of the journey go from cold to glaze heat back to cold in about 2
hours or so.
Odd to think if this technique could be used in other applications?
Jeff Longtin