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The ceramic tile manufacturing process is highly evolved, allowing for the production of high-quality materials at outstanding levels of efficiency. The reliability of pressing and firing technologies has enabled a steady increase in tile size. Floor tile sized 60 x 60 cm (approximately 24 x 24 in.) and 80 x 80 cm (~ 32 x 32 in.) are now standard, as are slabs with dimensions of up to 2 m (~ 79 in.).
To this end, Sacmi’s Continua technology executes on-conveyor powder pre-compaction prior to final pressing to ensure the easy shaping of large, complex products without penalizing productivity. To achieve even larger sizes and greater productivity, Sacmi has developed CONTINUA PLUS®, a new line comprising a “super-compactor” that is able to press ceramic powders at a pressure of 450 kg/cm2. In addition, by using the maximum loading width of the CONTINUA PLUS, a single line can produce up to 14,000 m2 per day.
The line loads the powders onto a metallic conveyor belt via a set of batching/mixing devices, which include dry digital decoration systems, subsequently forming a slab with a maximum width of 1,800 mm (1,600 mm post-firing) and unlimited length. CONTINUA PLUS provides the ability to feed a bed of spray-dried powder continuously, instantaneously transforming it into a ceramic material ready for firing.
The technology offers multiple advantages in terms of simplicity, product flexibility and considerably lower installation and production costs. For example, the line does not require any foundation work as it is simply set down on the factory floor. In addition, it provides energy savings; a CONTINUA PLUS uses less than 50 kW of installed power, or a specific consumption of 0.06 kWh/m2.
Size flexibility is ensured by:
- A width (fired size) range of 1,000-1,600 mm, adjustable as needed with fast changeovers (20 minutes)
- Length, adjustable as needed, with instantaneous changeover of the set cutting size (typical sizes: 1,200; 2,400; 3,000; 3,200 and 3,600 mm)
- Adjustable thickness between 3 and 20 mm, with fast changeovers (30 minutes)
- Further possibilities for the unfired cutting of sub-multiples up to a minimum size of 400 mm.
Unfired slab lateral trim waste, which can easily be fed back into the grinding cycle, comprises less than 3% of processed material, thanks to rigid side containment and the resulting good compaction homogeneity. The compaction of powders loaded onto the conveyor also allows for numerous applicative combinations: loading of a base and/or economical powder, loading of a quality layer of colored powders and/or spray-dried glazes, loading of a mix of powders, the creation of full-body products with through-veining, digital decoration with various (spray-dried, glaze, grain, flake and micronized) powder types, and use of conveyors with relief patterns and the blending of dry-type effects with digital ink-jet decoration before or after drying.
For more information, visit www.sacmi.com.