On June 2nd, the four-day 2023 Foshan International Ceramic Equipment and Materials Exposition (“Uniceramics Expo”) came to a successful conclusion. As Asia’s most prominent professional exposition for ceramic equipment and materials, this event welcomed over 500 upstream companies from China, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Japan. These exhibitors showcased the most cutting-edge new technologies, processes, and equipment in the entire ceramic manufacturing industry chain.
From the products exhibited by various exhibitors and the feedback from attendees, this year’s exposition presented five phenomena:
- Energy saving and digitalization have emerged as the primary concerns for businesses.
- There have been revolutionary innovations in glazing technology.
- Porcelain tile intelligent inspection technology is maturing.
- Sintered stone processing and delivery technology has seen comprehensive advancements.
- Surface decoration techniques displayed are mostly mature, with no significant breakthrough innovations spotted.
Table of Contents
Energy Saving and Digitalization Are the Main Focus for Businesses
With the rise in energy and raw material costs, cost-reduction and efficiency improvement have become the primary concerns for ceramic companies.
At this exposition, products with “energy-saving” features were especially popular, such as Poppi’s slurry pre-heating system, MinJie Machinery‘s continuous ball milling system, Litai Ceramic Machine‘s zero-carbon combustion technology, and Lan Zhi Jing Technology‘s integrated powder-making process. Most of these technologies target high energy-consuming and electricity-consuming processes in ceramic production.
For ceramic companies, the money saved in costs directly translates into profit.
Regarding digitalization, KEDA launched the Zhen Tao MOM ceramic factory production and operation management system; Litai showcased the Ceraworks 4.0 integrated intelligent control system, while Siemens demonstrated a virtual debugging solution for the production process utilizing digital twin technology. All of these attracted much attention from factory managers.
Revolutionary Innovations in Glazing Technology
Glazing equipment, represented by bell jars and glazing cabinets, has been popular in the ceramic industry for many years and has yet to change. However, at this exposition, products showcased by SYSTEM, Lan Dong Li, and Airpower shattered this status quo.
SYSTEM exhibited the Digiglaze, a fine digital glazing device developed by their subsidiary Tecno. This was the device’s first appearance in China. Digiglaze can set the glazing area and frequency, using a nozzle to print glaze on the surface of tiles, saving 35% of glaze compared to traditional methods annually.
Lan Dong Li Technology also launched its new digital glazing equipment at the exposition, where the glazing apparatus can adjust the glazing direction and range according to the product, achieving more uniform, precise, and larger glazing volumes.
Although Airpower‘s digital glazing equipment, E-PIC, did not showcase a physical machine, they introduced a proportioning machine that can automatically adjust the proportion of glaze, addressing a significant issue in the glazing process.
Donghai Technology‘s intelligent glazing system, which offers fully automated glazing and glaze supply, substantially resolves human errors in the glazing process.
Mature Intelligent Inspection Technology for Ceramic Tiles
Quality inspection of ceramic tiles is a crucial distinction between top-tier companies and average ones, so tile inspection has always been a priority for ceramic companies. Typically, multiple inspectors are assigned to a single production line.
Although tile inspection equipment began to emerge with the industry’s progress, it has never fully replaced manual inspection. At this exposition, several companies showcased the latest smart tile inspection devices. With the enhancement of AI, 5G, and deep learning technologies, the tech for intelligent tile inspection has matured considerably.
Alibaba’s DAMO Academy introduced the “Ceramic Tile Surface AI Detection System,” co-developed with New Pearl. It can detect scratches, missing glaze, shrinking glaze, and dirt, boasting a 97% accuracy rate and has been trialed in New Pearl and Marco Polo factories.
SYSTEM brought their quality control machine, Qualitron, which can identify defects in graphical structures or tones and automatically grade products.
Comprehensive Evolution in Sintered Stone Processing and Delivery Technology
Sintered stones, a hot product in the industry in recent years, have always had issues in processing and delivery. This exposition featured a special section in Hall 8 dedicated to the deep processing of sintered stones, displaying the latest sintered stone and stone processing equipment and technologies.
KEDA showcased equipment like the 45° edge grinding slotting machine, CNC Waterjet Machine, and five-axis CNC bridge cutting machine. They can offer a fully automated, unmanned flexible production solution for sintered stones and stones, with full intelligent networking and reduced human involvement.
Veego demonstrated the entire processing line for sintered stone countertops, from cutting and hole punching to edge grinding and storage, emphasizing lower costs, better quality, and higher efficiency.
Rich Waterjet displayed several deep-processing water jet devices for sintered stones, capable of “measure while cutting“, greatly improving efficiency and precision. In addition, companies like Zhengda, Yongtao, Xinfeida, and Jugang Shengong all presented their solutions for sintered stone processing.
Surface Decoration Techniques Facing Innovation Bottlenecks
This exposition did not present any ceramic tile surface decoration techniques breakthroughs. While products such as skin glaze, wax glaze, fine matte granules, and precision-carved mold surfaces were showcased, they are already quite mature. Many industry insiders have commented that the sector is encountering an innovation bottleneck, with differentiation now mainly achieved through nuanced innovations and refined polishing control.
Dowstone‘s showcased products included pearlescent dry granules and crackle dry granules and gold sand dry granules, for the first time to bring the 3D glaze presents a stronger sense of three-dimensionality and color expression than ordinary ink..
MRIS specifically showcased the application of ceramic ink on materials such as aluminum panels, wooden panels, flexible porcelain, calcium silicate boards, and foamed ceramics, providing ideas for expanding the scope of ceramic ink applications.
Pansheng Technology highlighted various dry granule polishing, velvet polishing, thick polishing, and soft polishing processes and can provide customized solutions based on company needs.
In conclusion, while the radioactive attributes of tiles should be acknowledged and managed, they aren’t a significant health risk. By adhering to these guidelines and being mindful of the types and uses of tiles, homeowners can enjoy the aesthetic appeal of ceramic and stone tiles without undue concern.