3D Design | 3D Printer | 3D Slicer | 3D-Printed Clay | 3D-Printing | Abrasion Ceramics | Acidic Oxides | Agglomeration | Alkali | Alkaline Earths | Amorphous | Apparent porosity | Ball milling | Bamboo Glaze | Base Glaze | Base-Coat Dipping Glaze | Basic Oxides | Batch Recipe | Bisque | Bit Image | Black Coring | Bleeding colors | Blisters | Bloating | Blunging | Bone China | Borate | Boron Blue | Boron Frit | Borosilicate | Breaking Glaze | Brushing Glaze | Buff stoneware | Calcination | Calculated Thermal Expansion | Candling | Carbon Burnout | Carbon trap glazes | CAS Numbers | Casting-Jiggering | Celadon Glaze | Ceramic | Ceramic Binder | Ceramic Decals | Ceramic Glaze | Ceramic Ink | Ceramic Material | Ceramic Oxide | Ceramic Slip | Ceramic Stain | Ceramic Tile | Ceramics | Characterization | Chemical Analysis | Chromaticity | Clay | Clay body | Clay Body Porosity | Clay Stiffness | Co-efficient of Thermal Expansion | Code Numbering | Coil pottery | Colloid | Colorant | Cone plaque | Cones | Copper Red | Cordierite Ceramics | Crackle glaze | Crawling | Crazing | Cristobalite | Cristobalite Inversion | Crucible | Crystalline glazes | Crystallization | Cuerda Seca | Cutlery Marking | De-Airing Pugmill | Decomposition | Deflocculation | Deoxylidration | Digitalfire Foresight | Digitalfire Insight | Digitalfire Reference Library | Dimpled glaze | Dip Glazing | Dipping Glaze | Dishwasher Safe | Dolomite Matte | Drop-and-Soak Firing | Drying Crack | Drying Performance | Drying Shrinkage | Dunting | Dust Pressing | Earthenware | Efflorescence | Encapsulated Stains | Engobe | Eutectic | Fast Fire Glazes | Fat Glaze | Feldspar Glazes | Firebrick | Fireclay | Fired Strength | Firing Schedule | Firing Shrinkage | Flameware | Flashing | Flocculation | Fluid Melt Glazes | Flux | Food Safe | Foot Ring | Forming Method | Formula Ratios | Formula Weight | Frit | Fritware | Functional | GHS Safety Data Sheets | Glass vs. Crystalline | Glass-Ceramic Glazes | Glaze Bubbles | Glaze Chemistry | Glaze Compression | Glaze Durability | Glaze fit | Glaze Gelling | Glaze Layering | Glaze Mixing | Glaze Recipes | Glaze Shrinkage | Glaze thickness | Globally Harmonized Data Sheets | Glossy Glaze | Green Strength | Grog | Gunmetal glaze | Handles | High Temperature Glaze | Hot Pressing | Incised decoration | Ink Jet Printing | Inside-only Glazing | Insight-Live | Interface | Iron Red Glaze | Jasper Ware | Jiggering | Kaki | Kiln Controller | Kiln Firing | Kiln fumes | Kiln venting system | Kiln Wash | Kovar Metal | Laminations | Leaching | Lead in Ceramic Glazes | Leather hard | Lime Popping | Limit Formula | Limit Recipe | Liner Glaze | LOI | Low Temperature Glaze Recipes | Lustre Colors | Majolica | Marbling | Material Substitution | Matte Glaze | Maturity | MDT | Mechanism | Medium Temperature Glaze | Melt Fluidity | Melting Temperature | Metallic Glazes | Micro Organisms | Microwave Safe | Mineralogy | Mocha glazes | Mohs Hardness | Mole% | Monocottura | Mosaic Tile | Mottled | Mullite Crystals | Native Clay | Non Oxide Ceramics | Oil-spot glaze | Once fire glazing | Opacifier | Opacity | Ovenware | Overglaze | Oxidation Firing | Oxide Formula | Oxide Interaction | Oxide System | Particle orientation | Particle Size Distribution | PCE | Permeability | Phase change | Phase Diagram | Phase Separation | | Pinholing | Plainsman Clays | Plaster Bat | Plaster table | Plasticine | Plasticity | Plucking | Porcelain | Porcelaineous Stoneware | Pour Glazing | Precipitation | Primary Clay | Primitive Firing | Production Setup | Propane | Propeller Mixer | Pyroceramics | Pyroceramics | Quartz Inversion | Raku | Reactive Glazes | Reduction Firing | Reduction Speckle | Refractory | Refractory Ceramic Coatings | Representative Sample | Respirable Crystalline Silica | Rheology | Rutile Glaze | Salt firing | Sanitary ware | Sculpture | Secondary Clay | Shino Glazes | Shivering | Sieve | Silica:Alumina Ratio (SiO2:Al2O3) | Silk screen printing | Sintering | Slaking | Slip Casting | Slip Trailing | Soaking | Soluble colors | Soluble Salts | Specific gravity | Splitting | Spray Glazing | Stain Medium | Stoneware | Stull Chart | Sulfate Scum | Sulfates | Surface Area | Surface Tension | Suspension | Tapper Clay | Tenmoku | Terra cotta | Terra Sigilatta | Test Kiln | Theoretical Material | Thermal Conductivity | Thermal shock | Thermocouple | Thixotropy | Tony Hansen | Toxicity | Tranlucency | Translucency | Transparent Glazes | Triaxial Glaze Blending | Ultimate Particles | Underglaze | Unity Formula | Upwork | Viscosity | Vitrification | Volatiles | Warping | Water in Ceramics | Water Smoking | Water Solubility | Wedging | Whiteware | Wood Ash Glaze | Wood Firing | Zero3 | Zeta Potential

Physical Testing

In ceramics, glazes and bodies have a chemistry, a mineralogy and a physical presence. All of these need to be understood to adjust and fix issues.

Details

Ceramic engineers and technicians must take control of their production processes to trouble-shoot and have fewer problems, be able to adjust or improve bodies and glazes and formulate new ones. A long term program of quality control measurements is an essential context in which to deal with anomalies in a production process. Where you depend on external suppliers it is doubly important to be measuring (and documenting) the physical properties that most directly impact your process and products.

For example, ceramic glazes fire the way they do mainly because of their chemistry, but also because of the particle sizes of the materials, the mineralogy of the particles and firing and process factors. So no evaluation of a glaze would be complete without testing the physics: Things like the fluidity and bubble population of the melt, the tendency to crack on drying or crawl on firing, the dry and fired hardness, the resistance to leaching, the presence of oversize impurity particles.

The chemistry of bodies is much less important (since the same chemistry can produce radically different results depending on the mineralogy and particle size of the materials). For bodies, technicians want to know about the plasticity; the drying shrinkage and performance; fired shrinkage, tendency to warp and porosity across an range of temperatures, etc. These are physical factors that are very difficult to predict empirically, they must be measured methodically in a laboratory setting.

Often supply and price issues are the main focus in a production setting. Recipes tend to be cast-in-stone and companies are afraid to use new materials where there is not a good context of testing and understanding of the variables that must be managed. Yet, while ceramic engineers and technicians study, compare, research and log a wide range of physical property data for their materials and recipes, a common oversight is an effective way to record and organize the data from them. An account at Insight-live.com is used for this. This brings extra confidence to make changes that can have a big effect on company operational efficiency, costs and product quality and consistency. Consider these two examples:

1. Ceramic materials for glazes source oxides to the chemistry; Insight-live has tools to substitute materials (e.g. frits) in the recipe while maintaining the chemistry (and thus fired properties). Videos and training materials at Insight-live provide help so that any technician can accomplish this.

2. As already noted, ceramic materials source physical and fired property contributions to body recipes (e.g. plasticity, fired maturity, lower thermal expansion). In an account at Insight-live.com technicians, document in a very organized way, the data for a quality control testing program.

Not have expensive testing equipment? This may not be the disadvantage that you think. These can even be a barrier to really understanding your materials, bodies and glazes. This equipment generates pages full of numbers that often have little to do with the practical use of the material in traditional ceramic production. Design tests specific to your application, do them diligently over time, log the data; you will be better equipped to manage an R&D program. Systematic and methodical physical experimentation directed by a growing knowledge of materials and chemistry will win every time.

Related Information

Stamp used for stamping information onto clay test bars

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.

Clay test bars ready for measuring

SHAB (Shrinkage, Absorption) test bars ready to unload. These are measured for length after drying and firing and for weight after firing and boiling. This data is plugged into my account at insight-live.com and it calculates shrinkage and porosity numbers. If you fire bars of a clay to a range of temperatures you can characterize key properties of a clay very effectively.

Compiling test bar shrinkage and weights for Insight-live

A batch of fired test bars, organized by temperature, have already been weighed (the weight is written on the side of each bar). Now they will be measured and the SHAB test data (shrinkage/absorption) entered into each recipe record (in an account at insight-live.com). From this data Insight-live can calculate fired shrinkage and fired porosity, enabling you to compare the degree of vitrification of different materials and bodies. This is especially good for quality control purposes.

Testing your own native clays is easier that you might think

Simple tests being done on a found clay

Some simple equipment is all you need. You can do practical tests to characterize a clay in your own studio or workshop. You need a gram scale (accurate to 0.01g) and set of calipers (check Amazon.com). Some metal sieves (search "Tyler Sieves" on Ebay). A stamp to mark samples with code and specimen numbers. A plaster table or slab. A propeller mixer. And, of course, a test kiln. And you need a place to put, and learn from, all the measurement data collected. An account at insight-live.com is perfect.

Identifying throwing tests of clay bodies

If you are doing testing, and everyone should be testing body and glaze variations, then your ware needs to be identified. Do that with a code number that cross references into your documentation in your account at Insight-live.com.

A kiln load going in with no tests. What a shame.

Next kiln: Had tests. But no documentation system to learn from those tests. What a shame! Even if you are potter or hobbyist, it is always good to be testing something new. An oxide or stain added to a base (or a variegator like rutile or titanium). A new base clear or matte that fits your clay bodies better. A new stain or commercial glaze. A found-clay. A new body/glaze combination. But every time you test something new, be sure to keep a record (with notes, recipes, pictures) in your account at insight-live.com.

Examples of DFAC disk, SHAB bar, LOI bar for clay testing

By preparing these three tests you can measure many properties of a clay body. These include drying shrinkage, fired shrinkage, porosity, drying performance, soluble salts content, water content and LOI.

Scale, calipers and fired test bars to be measured for shrinkage

These are part of the procedure for the SHAB test. The length of the bars is entered into a recipe record in your account at insight-live.com. When Insight-live has these numbers it can calculate the drying and fired shrinkages.

Specification for a Tapper Clay lacks physics

Often ceramic clays are described on data sheets primarily by their chemistry (and requested as such). This is typically done at the expense of physical properties data. For example, Tapper clay is employed to plug the drain hole of ladles used to melt metals in the smelting industry. The operators of that equipment confront, in the physical presence of the material, many properties that have no relation to the chemistry (e.g. plasticity, shrinkage, water content). Notice also that the chemistry is not correct anyway, it species calcined material yet does not total 100. It specifies no carbon, yet this chemistry is like a ball clay, all of which have some carbon.

Lab testing a clay for its physical properties

SHAB test bars, an LDW tester for water content and a DFAC test disk about to be put into a drier. The SHAB (shrinkage-absorption) bars shrink during drying and firing, the length is measured at each stage. The LDW sample is weighed wet, dry and fired. The can prevents the inner portion of the DFAC disk from drying and this sets up stresses that cause it to crack. The nature of the cracking pattern and its magnitude are recorded as a Drying Factor. The numbers from all of these measurements are recorded in my account at Insight-live. It can present a complete physical properties report that calculates things like drying shrinkage, firing shrinkage, water content and LOI from these measured values.

Why does Tony Hansen take months to unload his kilns?

I love making pottery, but I love the technical side more. I searched for all the test specimens in this load of cone 10 reduction ware first, then pushed it back in and forgot about it. For three months! I really anticipate the test results (I am developing and adjusting many of bodies and glazes at any given time). The data and pictures for them go into my account at insight-live.com, it enables me to compare the chemistry and physical properties of recipes and materials side-by-side. That teaches me which roads to abandon and which ones to pursue. My last kiln went back in for six weeks, so things are getting worse!

We fight the dragon that others do not even see

There are thousands of ceramic glaze recipes floating around the internet. People dream of finding that perfect one, but they often only think about the visual appearance, not of the usability, function, safety, cost or materials. That resistance to understanding your materials and glazes and learning to take control is what we personify as the dragon. Using the resources on this site you could be fixing, adjusting, testing, formulating your own glaze recipes. Start with your own account at insight-live.com.

The kaolin arrives on a semi of 880 bags. First step: Record the date code.

A shipment EP Kaolin has arrived for use in production of porcelain and stoneware bodies. Of course, this needs to be tested before being put into product. But how? The first step is to create a new recipe record in my Insight-Live account, and find their production date code stamp on the bag. Hmmm. It does not have one! OK, then I need to record the date on which we received it. We need to save a bag on every pallet and sieve 50 grams through 100 mesh (to spot contamination). Then we'll make test bars (of all the samples mixed) to fire across a range of temperatures (to compare fired maturity with past shipments). We do a drying performance disk also, it also shows soluble salts.

Do not rely on material data sheets, do the testing

The cone 6 porcelain on the left uses Grolleg kaolin, the right uses Tile #6 kaolin. The Grolleg body needs 5-10% less feldspar to vitrify it to zero porosity. It thus contains more kaolin, yet it fires significantly whiter. Theoretically this seems simple. Tile #6 contains alot more iron than Grolleg. Wrong! According to the data sheets, Grolleg has the more iron of the two. Why does it always fire whiter? I actually do not know. But the point is, do not rely totally on numbers on data sheets, do the testing yourself.

How many simultaneous testing projects can you manage at once?

This two-inch pile of lab test body and glaze mix tickets is about half of what I have tested in the past year. I have added thousands of pictures too (using my smartphone). I just realized why I am doing a lot more testing. It is so much easier to organize the record keeping in my Insight-live.com account. I can manage so many separate testing projects. I have so much more of a sense that I am progressing. And it feels great to build such an organized set of records that I can refer back to.

Can you afford to completely trust supplier body quality control reports?

This body is used in the sanitary ware industry in China, the supplier sends this report with each shipment. The chemistry and assorted values for porosity, shrinkage, particle size are provided. The factory receiving this report accepts it as gospel and goes into production. However engineers at the plant need to think twice about such reports. These tests are being done at one temperature, they say nothing about what that body is doing above and below that temperature. Is it being employed in a volatile range of the porosity or firing shrinkage curves? Zero porosity bodies of this type are best when fired to a point near where the porosity curve descends to reach the x-axis. However that curve remains at zero while the shrinkage one tops out and reverses direction. At some point the porosity curve sharply rises. Only by firing and testing at a range of temperatures in your own lab can you where your body is on the curve.

Links

Glossary Melt Fluidity
Ceramic glazes melt and flow according to their chemistry and mineralogy. Observing and measuring the nature and amount of flow is important in understanding them.
Glossary Characterization
In ceramics, this normally refers to the process of doing physical or chemical testing on a raw material to accurately describe it in terms of similar ones.
Glossary Clay body
A term used by potters and in the ceramic industry. It refers to the earthenware, stoneware or porcelain that forms the piece (as opposed to the engobe and covering glaze).
URLs https://insight-live.com/insight/help/It+Starts+With+a+Lump+of+Clay-433.html
It Starts With a Lump of Clay: How to Assess a Native Clay
Media Entering Shrinkage/Porosity Data Into Insight-Live
Projects Materials

By Tony Hansen


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