There are a variety of kilns used in the ceramic industry, each doing their own individual job. Different kilns are used depending on what the customer needs are. Old Kilns were fired and heated by wood, today they are either gas or electric.
Ceramics require elevated temperatures so that chemical and physical reactions take place. Things like cups and plates can be fired up to 3 times, if glazes and decoration are applied to the product. Temperatures at the start of the cycle, the preheat stage are around 100-200 degrees C and can reach up to 1600c depending on what is done.
The continuous and intermittent kiln are some of the most used within ceramics. The continuous being a kiln that never stops firing. This will be used in the mass production of tableware. The ware will be loaded on to moving platforms that will be then passed through the different chambers.
Intermittent being, a kiln that is loaded up for a fixed amount of ware, these tend to be shuttle kilns. Once the cycle is finished, the kiln is cooled, the product removed and then the cycle starts again. This process tends to be better for smaller producers or companies that have less space.
The picture below is of a Roller Hearth Kilns, this will produce more volume of ware and can be ran 24 hours a day if needs be.
This picture shows the ware on rollers being taken away from the kiln once fired, as it goes a whiteish colour and is known as biscuit. This has now had most of the water now taken out of the clay. The blue pipes are oxygen pipes, these are used to increase or decrease temperatures within the kiln.
Kilns have changed massively throughout the years to deal with increasing demands. Where we are based in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of pottery, aptly named as our abundance of clay and coal meant we could mass produce ceramics. The bottle kiln littered our skyline for 100s of years, these now are no longer used as more efficient alternatives came to market.
Therser UK manufactures and builds bespoke Kilns not only for the ceramic industry but for battery production, heat treatment of metals.