Work Smarter, Not Harder

These days, we’re all expected to do more with less. Layoffs and plant consolidations have forced the remaining employees to handle a greater number of responsibilities, and every dollar spent on the manufacturing process must be justified by significant returns. It is no longer enough to produce high-quality products—in today’s business environment, the bottom line is the bottom line. Fortunately, today’s ceramic manufacturers can take some simple steps to increase both their productivity and manufacturing efficiencies. For example, lapping, fine grinding and polishing processes have been used interchangeably for a number of years to achieve precision finishing of flat ceramic surfaces, but these three techniques are not equal when it comes to the cost and speed of the machining process. In many cases, fine grinding can be used instead of lapping to achieve higher material removal rates, more precise surface finishes and faster finishing speeds. However, some key applications still exist where lapping or polishing might be more appropriate. Understanding the differences between these three finishing techniques can help manufacturers optimize their finishing operations while reducing wasted time and money. For manufacturers that use ASTM standard C1161 to test the flexural strength of their advanced ceramic products, a revised standard introduced this year (C1161-02b) seems to indicate that grinding with a smaller-grit wheel (600 vs. 320) can reduce strength degradation. However, this approach is not practical in most manufacturing operations because the material removal rate achievable with the 600-grit wheel is very low and the machining costs are high. By using adaptive machining approaches—in which the wheel grit and other grinding parameters are based on the material and its intended application—manufacturers can achieve the maximum strength characteristics with the lowest possible machining cost. Dinnerware manufacturers also have some new productivity tools at their disposal. For example, a new robotic fettling system installed at Medard de Noblat in Limoges, France, and Rosenthal in Rothb┬┐hl, Germany, is allowing both companies to increase the quality of their products, as well as their assortment of irregular-shaped items. Although the system required a significant capital investment, it has enabled the companies to reduce their labor costs and increase their sales, thereby helping them to remain competitive in today’s challenging tableware market. “Productivity” and “efficiency” will no doubt continue to be big buzzwords in the coming year as companies struggle to regain lost profits, and the pressure to produce more products at a higher quality and lower cost is likely to increase. With the right tools in place and a good understanding of their processes, ceramic manufacturers can streamline their operations and meet their margins without straining their resources.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Ceramic Industry Magazine.

Recent Articles by Christine Grahl

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

November 2014 Issue Highlights

Our November 2014 issue is now available! Posted: March 31, 2015.


Ceramics Expo podcast
Editor Susan Sutton discusses the upcoming Ceramics Expo with event director Adam Moore.
More Podcasts

Ceramic Industry Magazine

CI April 2015 edition

2015 April

You'll want to check out our continuing coverage of the inaugural Ceramics Expo event, plus articles on dental ceramics, glass coatings, refractories, and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Daily News

We know where you find the latest ceramic industry news (ahem), but where do you catch up on the rest of your daily news?
View Results Poll Archive


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\Ceramics Industry\handbook of advanced ceramics.gif
Handbook of Advanced Ceramics Machining

Ceramics, with their unique properties and diverse applications, hold the potential to revolutionize many industries, including automotive and semiconductors.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


facebook_40px twitter_40px  youtube_40pxlinkedin_40google+ icon 40px


CI Data Book July 2012

Ceramic Industry's Directories including Components, Equipment Digest, Services, Data Book & Buyers Guide, Materials Handbook and much more!