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Porcelain tiles in large formats: new reality and challenges



Brazil is a leading player in the international ceramic tiles market, being the third largest producer and consumer of ceramic tiles in the world, behind only China and India. Among the various types of products manufactured by the Brazilian industry such as facade, floor, wall, enameled porcelain and technical porcelain tiles, a special highlight should be given to enameled porcelain tiles, whose production and commercial preference has presented increasing curves in the last 10 years.

In this context, large format ceramic tiles are no longer characterized as a world trend, but an international reality. Therefore, there are many challenges facing the Brazilian and world ceramic industry in relation to the adequacy of standardization, both in relation to technical requirements adjustments and in relation to finished product testing methodologies. In a presentation recently made at the opening of the largest World Ceramic Tiles Congress (Qualicer 2018), data on the evolution of porcelain tile sizes in the last four decades were presented.

In the 1980s, for example, it was very common to find porcelain tiles with a side larger than 15 cm and currently there are no limits, since the new manufacturing technologies allow the production of pieces with a greater side than 3.5 m. Radical changes have also occurred in the thickness of porcelain tiles, today we can find in the market products with thickness varying from 3 to 20 mm. When it comes to international standards in ceramic tiles, the reference is the ISO / TC 189 - Ceramic Tile Technical Committee, with 28 published standards (10 under development) and has 30 participating member countries, including Brazil, and 26 observer member countries .

It is important to mention that in the last 10 years Brazil was present at all the meetings of the ISO / TC 189 Committee with a very active technical delegation and will host the next meeting in November 2018. The major challenge at the moment is to tailor testing methods to large-format pieces. For the tests that already include cutting of test pieces such as impact strength (ISO 10545-5), resistance to surface abrasion (ISO 10545-7), resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6), linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8), moisture expansion (ISO 10545-10), chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13) and staining resistance (ISO 10545-14), there is no problem in continuing to use the current methods, regardless of the size of the ceramics. However, for test methods involving the use of whole parts, the situation becomes very critical. The CCB, Ceramic Center of Brazil, with the support of ANFACER and ASPACER, made a technical study to help develop a new method for measuring dimensional characteristics using a three-dimensional laser arm. This equipment was proposed by the Ceramic Center of Bologna (Italy) together with ISO / TC 189 and Brazil is supporting this change.

With this new arm, widely used in the automotive industry, several samples from different suppliers were tested and analyzed using two measurement methodologies. The first is the touch system, that is, touching with the equipment the piece, another by laser scanning each piece and automatic sending of the dimensions to the software. For over 10 years, the Brazilian ceramic tile industry has been meeting international standards and has made significant internationally technical contribution to make ISO standards more restrictive and thus to achieve continuous quality growth.

There are numerous revisions for the adaptation of the large format pieces, and all this is being studied with the intention of contributing more and more to the quality of our products.


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