INSIDE CI: Bringin' the Heat
I'm not crazy about hot weather. When the temperature gets up to about 85°F, I start to feel very uncomfortable. And don't get me started on humidity. The crazy-curly hair doesn't really bother me that much, but I hate it when the air's so thick it feels like I'm breathing through a blanket. Put the two together, and I'm absolutely miserable. Though, to tell the truth, if it gets below about 70°F, I start to feel chilled. What can I say? I guess I'm a temperature-sensitive person.
The perfect solution would be a personal temperature/humidity regulator that keeps my environment at a nice-and-steady 75°F, with low humidity. Ah, blissful comfort. Sadly, I must reconcile myself with the fact that such a solution is just not going to happen. It's a good thing I'm not quite as sensitive as some of the products being fired in the ceramic and related industries. Accurate, repeatable control in manufacturing isn't just a luxury-it can mean the difference between consistent, high-quality product and mountains of scrap.
Porcelain, for example, can be pretty finicky when it comes to firing. Maintaining the appropriate kiln atmosphere is vital, as is control of the temperature throughout various zones in the kiln. One porcelain tableware manufacturer recently installed a new control system for its tunnel kiln and has seen benefits ranging from improved product quality and increased throughput (see "Controlling Combustion”).
Upgrading a kiln's combustion design can also result in improved fuel efficiencies. Senior Technical Editor Ralph Ruark explains how firing with excess air came of age in the '70s, and why the practice has saddled manufacturers with considerable fuel expenses as prices continue to increase. Modifying the kiln can save money by reducing fuel consumption, while also providing updated control and safety systems (see "Delivering Fuel Savings”).
PPP SourcebookOur second annual Pottery Production Practices Sourcebook is also included with this issue for select subscribers. This year's edition spotlights information on glazes and glaze mixing, fireclays, batch mixing pug mills and potter's wheels, plus lots more. For example, we've partnered with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) to share a listing of higher education ceramic degrees offered at colleges and universities throughout the U.S.
Once again, supplier listings* provide contact information for companies that sell into the pottery market. New this year is the Supplier Directory, a chart listing that details each supplier's product offerings in an easy-to-read format. You'll also want to check out the Sourcebook online at www.ceramicindustry.com for direct links to supplier websites.
If you have suggestions for next year's PPP Sourcebook (or regular issues of CI), please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Supplier listings indicate paid advertising. For rates and additional information, contact Ginny Reisinger at email@example.com or (614) 760-4220.