Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

The Application Of Advanced Computer Technology To The New Product Development Process In The Ceramics Industry

The project was designed to improve the implementation of Advanced technology into the new product development environment within the ceramics industry. The reduction of lead times for new product development is essential for a company to gain an economic advantage over its rivals and to ensure that it remains competitive in the world market. This is particularly important in a design led industry such as ceramics, where the major differentiation between European and lower cost competitors (typically Far Eastern) products is quality of design and manufacture.
During the project several technologies were reviewed evaluated and in some cases implemented into the companies. Collaboration between the Dutch partners and the UK partners was primarily based on the transfer of knowledge and experienced gained through out the project. This served to compare independent trials to achieve a better understanding of the principals needed to implement the technology.
In the initial stages the software used in the project had been identified as the most suitable and affordable in the market place. Throughout the project this software was modified and adapted to produce a final package which is capable of performing most of the design requirements of the designer.
Rapid prototyping in the ceramics industry has shown itself to be of value to the tableware sector of the industry. After several trials for the sanitary industry it was concluded there was only limited value in this process and the cost of full size units was prohibitive. In the tableware industry several models were made for each company to trial the most appropriate system and to evaluate the design potential of the systems. The models were then used for the creation of tooling for down stream processes. This generally showed the advantages through the used of RP, however, some problems were encountered. These problems involved to surface coatings of the models needed to reduce or prevent hydration of the models.
The sanitary ware sector of the project identified the need for CAM and through were able to reduce the new product development process lead times. The direct machining of moulds showed the ability of to reduce the time further. In the initial stages the process was slightly slower due the lack of experience with the operators when machining plaster. This is improving however there several conditions which need to be met for the process an in-depth study found the critical parameters of the process were the moisture content of the plaster and the feeds and speeds. These have been set out in the Technical report. On average the saving from this technology was in the region of 30% in time.
The material aspects of the project highlighted the need to look at other materials. However the problem arose with the porosity of the material. The material trials looked at the level of tool wear, the availability of materials, the moisture content of the material and the optimal mixes for machining.
The final section of the project was to look at the potential of Finite Method for the modelling of the drying of slip with the aim of predicting the distortion and shrinkage which occurs during this process. This was a preliminary study and initial results were promising. This stage of the project will continue as a research study for the next 2-3 years.

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