Smart coding sanitaryware

Clay Technology magazine
,
16 Apr 2010
Barcode is water transferred onto ceramic sanitaryware

An advanced high temperature barcoding system that can be easily
applied to sanitaryware could significantly reduce manufacturing waste,
says ceramic manufacturer Xerital Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

The
technology, which is uniquely numbered, can follow each piece of
sanitaryware individually through the production process. This ability
could help identify typical problems that occur in operations, raw
material levels, stage in production and production parameters,
eliminating errors.

The approach, which has been widely used
industrially for identification purposes, has existed for some time in
the ceramics field, yet ease of integration and durability of barcodes
within production flows has been an area of concern.

Xerital
and technology partners SRC claim the system can be easily applied to
the ceramic product by a waterslide transfer of a high temperature
black ceramic pigment to the greenware after demoulding. The barcode
transfer is then applied to the clay surface with the help of a bonding
solution and fired onto the surface of the ware.

Company Director Howard Quinn, who insists that no other coding method in
ceramics
has provided this level of identification, states, ‘The barcodes have
the same lifetime as the ware, with no signs of adversity in tests on
accuracy
or readability’.

The system, which only monitors
the piece during manufacturing, is stable to 1,250ºC meeting ceramic
heat processing temperatures. This, combined with a specialised
printing technology, creates sequential ceramic barcodes that retain
their strong black colour after firing – a critical factor in ensuring
inform-ation integrity and readability.

Ceramic Specialist,
Barry Lye has concerns about the barcodes heat properties he says, ‘The
glaze firing temperature of up to 1,250ºC is normal for once-fired
vitreous sanitaryware but temperature suitability depends upon the body
and glaze composition and their firing/maturing temperature.

‘Nevertheless,
the barcode system will be useful in tracking the ware through
processing. It will also be useful in assessing and improving the best
yield and quality aspects of the product’.