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Mass Customisation of the ceramic and glass decoration. A contribution to the Future Manufacturing Industries.


Ojectives:Product customisation.
A computer tool will be developed for the client to generate his own product design via the Internet; confirmation will then automatically commission production, thus providing fully customised service. Development of a prototype for decoration by application of an industrially feasible laser. Prototypes will be based on one or several laser techniques, classified in two groups:deposition and activation techniques. In the former, decoration occurs by depositing colouring materials on the surface of the fired ceramic tile and glass. The laser fuses the colorants and incorporates them into the surface, producing the design. Deposition occurs beforehand by a digital printing system. In another deposition technique the laser head itself feeds the material, with parallel fusion or "cladding". In the activation techniques, decoration is by changing surface colour by exposure to laser radiation. In both techniques, the development of colouring materials and optimum glaze compositions is critical. Production optimisation. Tile decoration is customised by so-called "third-fire" manufacture, tiles fired by conventional techniques are decorated and then re-fired. Third fire requires relatively large production lots to be cost effective, thus limiting production of small customised orders.
Decoration by laser technology will eliminate this last firing stage, reduce energy costs and gas emissions, and enable making small fully customised lots. It will also greatly reduce factory work space with the envisaged prototypes. In glass and ceramic tiles manufacture, organic colouring materials are mainly used for decoration, which are a source of pollutants and potential VOCs. The techniques envisaged will enable eliminating these. With regard to laser techniques currently used for decorating small pieces, the development will raise production rates, optimise the quantity of deposited colorant, and increase the exposure area, thus facilitating the decoration of large-size pieces...

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