Being able to make good consistent test bars and fire them in a consistent and proper way is a basic requirement of getting valid results for shrinkage and porosity measurement.
An account at Insight-live.com is an online place to record data from your testing program. It defines many tests that can provide valuable information about the physical properties of clays, yet require little expensive test equipment to perform. You will probably agree knowing the chemistry of a clay material means little when compared to understanding its physical properties.
Insight-live test definitions are text-only and explain in detail exactly how to perform the procedures. We have tried to make-do with straight text where possible so that information can be sent via email and posted on our BBS and the Internet in a form easily used by anyone on any computer. While it is possible to describe most procedures adequately via text, I will show you two photos here that will help clarify two things in the procedure for the SHAB test (shrinkage and absorption properties) for making clay test bars.
The procedure given for stacking the bars is illustrated here. This angular stacked pattern encourages even heating of all bars compared to laying them on the kiln shelf, which acts as a heat-sink.
Notice that the three bottom bars are sawed from an insulating fire brick. The bars are piled at an angle to each other so that shrinkage has less likelihood of collapsing the stack.
This type of stamp is deal for stamping mix and ID information on SHAB (and many other test types) clay test bars. Set up the run or recipe number on the left and the specimen number on the right.
These have already been measured to deduce drying shrinkage. After firing they will be measured again to calculate the firing shrinkage. Then they will be weighed, boiled in water and weighed again to determine the water absorption. Fired shrinkage and absorption are good indicators of body maturity.
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Every ceramic production facility should have some sort of materials, body and glaze testing program in place. Amazingly, many large factories have little or no testing! Then one day the kiln operator...
By Tony Hansen