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Ceramics: Notes on Glaze Formulation and Firing
I hesitate to write an article about glaze construction when there is so much on the Internet. However, there are a few general things that can be helpful.
Some years ago I divided the glaze mix according to firing temperature and surface finish. I have made both lead and non-lead glazes and matt. I was surprised how easy it is to combine the composition and the firing temperature (pyrometric cone or Buller ring).
You can run the same type of exercise if you are looking at several glaze songs trying to come up with just one. You can start your design using averages of the composition range of each oxide for the range of temperatures you are shooting.
The properties of the glaze can be calculated from the composition. For example, you can calculate the coefficient of thermal expansion. In my experience, the calculation does not match the measured properties of the final glaze. However, the corresponding statistics are often true. You cannot calculate the actual measured value but you will know that Glaze A will have a higher expansion and a lower viscosity than Glaze B.
My partners have made hundreds of glazes over the years on ceramics and fine china. Much of this work has been done in a joint effort with frit suppliers as existing frits do not always do the trick for large production jobs.
Here are some things I found to be important:
Lead is magic in glazes. It should be used in a braided form and in the smallest amount possible to maintain the proper flow of the glaze in the molten state. Polished clothing must pass all FDA and other restricted testing. If the lead is acceptable, your problems are reduced. Your employees should be screened for lead in the blood if air lead levels exceed OSHA standards. Borate frits can help reduce lead content but can increase solubility.
The complexity of the formula is important. Everything you add to the glaze affects the properties of the final glaze. For example, a high alkali content will increase the melting point of the glaze, increase thermal expansion, and generally increase turbulence. A minimum of alkali content will give the glaze fusibility. Also, each alkali acts differently in proportion. Therefore one can use more than one alkali and the smallest amount of each produces the best balance of properties.
The same goes for alkaline earths, glaze modifiers, and glass molds.
You need to consider the whole periodic table of things when making a glaze.
Remember that adding very little of something can give you the property you want, but increasing the amount just a little can ruin your progress. As with the glaze formulas, some things do.
One more thing: You must use the minimum commitment amount. Sometimes it is better to use multiple bonds for small amounts than to use one bond. Bindings can be cleaned with clay or organic materials such as gums or resins. As I say, a mix is often the best. Neither will be better.
To learn how to design gazes from scratch or use frits you can find it in my book Ceramics: Industrial Preparation and Evaluation. You can read the contents here [http://www.tjbooks.com/ceram.htm]
First, from my experience the fire burns better in periodic kilns than in tunnel tons. Comparing the tunnel kiln cycle to the periodic kiln cycle cannot give the same results. The nature of space is different as is the atmosphere.
A firing curve naturally has warm-up and cool-down periods.
Between these slopes is the time/temperature transformed or transformed.
During heating, the bindings are removed from the glaze.
They should be completely removed and should not be reduced to carbon during preheat. This doesn’t mean you can’t approach mitigating circumstances. Other compounds such as MnO and FeO can greatly enhance the solubility even though they remain in the glaze only in small amounts as impurities. These materials do not react under oxidizing conditions. However, don’t discount the carbon footprint. It is almost impossible to remove most of the glaze during firing.
There are a number of tools to determine the burnability of a particular bond. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and Differential Thermal Analysis (DTA) come to this old head.
Pre-heating or pre-heating is often the standard product for tunnel kilns. Therefore, if you don’t get what you want, you need to adjust the burners or the heating input in this area. You don’t want bubbles from the binder forming at all during drying. You have enough bubble problems without that.
During the absorption phase and all the high temperatures the glaze changes composition. That is, the glaze loses its volatile properties due to high temperatures. This can be difficult as when one part of the glaze is removed it can increase the flexibility of other parts.
For you chemical engineers, this will be like steam mixing.
When you lose flexibility you increase the glaze viscosity in the melt. For this reason, and others I think, a quick shot is always better than a long shot cycle. In fact, I have seen a glaze that needs to be fired quickly.
Cooling is important for both glaze and ceramic ware. You can rapidly cool to just beyond the silica phase transition and then rapidly cool through the transitions. This may not be good for the glaze trying to get rid of the bubbles that are created after the glaze melts. This can put you between a rock and a hard place. You must be able to control the entire cooling area of the tunnel kiln from the moment the ware comes out of the kiln.
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