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                         INDUSTRY PROFILE #11
                            CERAMICS PLANT
                              Prepared By
                           Victor R. Palmeri
                              Reviewed By
                            Dwight R. Brown
                          Wallace C. Higgins
                               Published By
    1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 500, Arlington, Virginia 22209 USA
            Telephone: (703) 276-1800, Fax: (703) 243-1865
                  Telex 440192 VITAUI, Cable: VITAINC
           Internet., Bitnet vita@gmuvax
                         Small Ceramics Plant
                          ISBN: 0-86619-298-0
              [C]1988, Volunteers in Technical Assistance
                           INDUSTRY PROFILES
This Industry Profile is one of a series briefly describing small or medium-sized industries. The
Profiles provide basic information for starting manufacturing plants in developing nations.
Specifically, they provide general plant descriptions, financial, and technical factors for their
operation, and sources of information and expertise. The series is intended to be useful in
determining whether the industries described warrant further inquiry either to rule out or to
decide upon investment. The underlying assumption of these Profiles is that the individual
making use of them already has some knowledge and experience in industrial development.
Dollar values are listed only for machinery and equipment costs, and are primarily based on
equipment in the United States. The price does not include shipping costs or import-export taxes,
which must be considered and will vary greatly from country to country. No other investment
costs are included (such as land value, building rental, labor, etc.) as those prices also vary.
These items are mentioned to provide the investor with a general checklist of considerations for
setting up a business.
These profiles should not be substituted for feasibility studies. Before an investment is made in
a plant, a feasibility study should be conducted. This may require skilled economic and
engineering expertise. The following illustrates the range of questions to which answers must
be obtained:
      *   What is the extent of the present demand for the product, and how is it now being
      *   Will the estimated price and quality of the product make it competitive?
      *   What is the marketing and distribution plan and to whom will the product be
      *   How will the plant be financed?
      *   Has a realistic time schedule for construction, equipment, delivery, obtaining
         materials and supplies, training of personnel, and the start-up time for the plant
         been developed?
      *   How are needed materials and supplies to be procured and machinery and
         equipment to be maintained and repaired?
      *   Are trained personnel available?
      *   Do adequate transportation, storage, power, communication, fuel, water, and
         other facilities exist?
      *   What management controls for design, production, quality control, and other
         factors have been included?
      *   Will the industry complement or interfere with development plans for the area?
      *   What social, cultural, environmental, and technological considerations must be
         addressed regarding manufacture and use of this product?
Fully documented information responding to these and many other questions should be
determined before proceeding with implementation of an industrial project.
              Equipment Suppliers, Engineering Companies
The services of professional engineers are desirable in the design of industrial plants even though
the proposed plant may be small. A correct design is one that provides the greatest economy in
the investment of funds and establishes the basis of operation that will be most profitable in the
beginning and will also be capable of expansion without expensive alteration.
Professional engineers who specialize in industrial design can be found be referring to the
published cards in various engineering magazines. They may also be reached through their
national organizations.
Manufacturers of industrial equipment employ engineers familiar with the design and installation
of their specialized products. These manufacturers are usually willing to give prospective
customers the benefit of technical advice by those engineers in determining the suitability of their
equipment in any proposed project.
Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) is a private, non-profit, volunteer organization
engaged in international development. Through its varied activities and services, VITA fosters
self-sufficiency by promoting increased economic productivity. Supported by a volunteer roster
of over 5,000 experts in a wide variety of fields, VITA is able to provide high quality technical
information to requesters. This information is increasingly conveyed through low-cost advanced
communication technologies, including terrestrial packet radio and low-earth-orbiting satellite.
VITA also implements both long- and short-term projects to promote enterprise development and
transfer technology.
                          SMALL CERAMICS PLANT
PREPARED BY:  Victor R. Palmeri
REVIEWED BY:  Dwight R. Brown
             Wallace C. Higgins
1.  The Product
The products are small ceramic wares such as ashtrays, plates,
cigarette boxes, dishes, bowls, water containers, cups, etc.
2.  The Facility
This profile describes a small plant operating with one shift and
producing 16,000 pieces a year. It also describes a medium-sized
plant running a single shift producing about 80,000 units a year.
The investment and labor force required for this plant are very
small. The objects are decorated with the application of ceramic
colors, engobes, and stains, all of which can be purchased initially
in the United States, England, France, or Germany, and
later fabricated by the potter. The local market in less developed
areas will be limited because of the low average income of
the people. The market among tourists will depend to a large
extent on the degree to which the products have preserved their
native characteristics in the process of factory production. If a
distinctive style is preserved and an export market established
through direct shipments abroad (not only through tourist trade),
factory production may be economically feasible.
1. Outlook
       A. Economic
Like all handicrafts, the economics will depend on the quality
and originality of the product.
       B. Technical
A person who has talent as an artist or inventor should have no
serious problems in making ceramics. It will require some
persistence, however, and the availability of a small kiln to
fire samples prior to production runs.
2.  Manufacturing Equipment Flexibility
The basic element of any ceramics shop is the kiln, which can be
purchased new or used, or made by the potter following expert
consultation. The kiln may be heated by firewood, which may limit
its cost to only labor, refractories, and a steel grate. Or it
may be heated electrically, which will require heat resistant
wiring, temperature controls, and automatic switches. Heat treat
metals and the talent of the ceramist are also critical.
Adequate ventilation of the kilns is necessary to help eliminate
hazardous dust particles from the atmosphere, and masks should be
worn by those in continuous contact with dust. If the products
are food containers, facility for conducting safety tests must be
readily available.
With some additional equipment, the product line could be
expanded to include building materials such as floor and wall
tiles or sanitary ware suce as sinks, toilets, etc.
3.  Knowledge Base
Talent is born, and aquiring ceramic knowledge will take years.
But for the beginner, a few trial firings will be enough to have
a basic idea of the process, particularly drying and firing for a
specific types of clay.
4.  Quality Control
The purchaser of an artwork or other original ceramic piece will
tolerate small cracks and imperfections. Not so with dishes,
cups, and other goods for everyday use. These must be hard,
durable, and well glazed. Moreover, the products are breakable
and care needs to be taken in packaging them for shipping.
5.  Constraints and Limitations
        o    Uniform raw materials - this is absolutely critical
        o    Reliable fuel supply
        o    Transport system
        o    Ceramic compositions to prevent food poisoning
1.  Users
Individuals, households, restaurants, and ceramic parts manufacturers.
2.  Suppliers
The potter must find a good local supply of ceramic clays. Already
mixed ceramic bodies are expensive. To learn about the
available clays of a particular area, it is advisable to contact
the geology or mining departments or ministries of the region or
to ask local potters about the availability of ceramic clays. Or
follow the rivers or streams and dig until strata of rather
uniform clay is found. Sometimes good clay deposits are found far
away from rivers. Test for plasticity, shrinkage during drying
and firing.
In addition to clays, the potter will need the following minerals
in order to fabricate ceramic glazes and colors: feldspar, silica
(sand, flint or quartz), borax, lead silicate, bentonite,
nepheline syenite, whiting (calcite), antimony oxide, potassium
carbonate, sodium carbonate, iron oxides, chromium oxide, nickel
oxide, tin oxide, copper oxide, and cobalt oxide. The latter
oxides are used as coloring agents in very small quantities and
can be prepared following VITA reports on the subject. The potter
should make sure that suppliers provide a material data sheet
that describes the hazard potential of their products. Packing
supplies could be a problem in a small town or rural area.
3.  Sales Channels and Methods
Plant would sell to jewelry and departmental stores, gift shops,
supermarkets, and also to exporters for shipment abroad. Ceramics
to be sold to jewelry stores must be of exceptional quality.
4.  Geographic Extent of Market
Distribution will depend on transportation facilities.
5.  Competition
Domestic - Imported mass-produced products will often be competitive.
Inexpensive locally-made handicraft items may also compete.
Export - The success of articles of this type in the export
market, particularly when not bought by tourists but exported
directly, depends largely upon the quality of the products, and
the extent to which they have preserved their native characteristics
in the process of factory production.
6.  Market Capacity
No specific population figure is necessary to support this plant.
Level of income would be the major limitation on domestic
consumption. The plant would depend partly upon exports, both
direct and indirect. Volume of tourist traffic, and their
relative price level will determine export demand. If the price,
quality, and design are right, they can create their own Local
market, replacing or supplmenting articles currently in use.
Requirements                              Annual   Output
                                       16,000    80,000 pieces
                                       60/day    300/day
1.  Infrastructure, Utilities      Small Plant      Medium Plant
    Land                              1,000 sq.ft      500 sq. ft
    Building                         20' x 30'        50 ft x 60 ft
    Power                            16,000 kw-hr     80,000 kw-hr
    Fuel                             ____________     _____________
    Water                            10 gal/day       300 gal/day
    Other                            ____________     _____________
2.  Major Equipment & Machinery     Small Plant      Medium  Plant
    Tools & Machinery
    fire brick kilns                     2                2
    small metal kiln                    1                2
    ball mill                            2                3
    jaw crusher                          1                1
     muller                              1                1
    molds, brushes, knives              
    spatulas, scrapers
    sieves, sgraffito knives
    stilts for kilns, 2 spray           1                2
    spray guns for glazing
    storage tanks (liquid, 55 gal)      2                4
Support equipment & parts
   benches & bins
of equipment & machinery only         $55,000         $90,000
*Based on $US 1987 prices. The costs provided are estimates and
are given only to provide a general idea for machinery costs.
They are not intended to be used as absolute prices. Costs still
need to be determined on a case by case basis.
3.  Materials & Supplies           Small Plant       Medium Plant
                                   16,000 units/yr     80,000 units/yr
                                    60 units/yr        300 units/yr
   Raw Materials
   clay                              100 lb/day          500 lb/day
   glazes, various types &
   colors                             10 gal/day          50 gal/day
   decalcomanias                     100/day             500/day
   glaze stains & underglaze
     stains                          0.25 lb/day         1.25 lb/day
   plaster                             20 lb/day         100 lb/day
   hand tools
   maintenance & repair parts
   office supplies
4.  Labor                          Small Plant       Medium Plant
    kiln firing                            1                 5
    caster                                 1                 5                    
    wheel potter                           1                 5
    batch formula                         2                10
    ware cleaner                           2                10
    ware glazer                            2               10
    raw material   preparation               1                3
    clean-up                               1                 3
    Manager                                1                 2
    bookkeeper                             1                 2
    scheduling                             1                 2
    plant operator                        1                 2
All the machines and equipment needed for this plant can be
fabricated in a small machine shop by an experienced mechanic,
including the kiln shell or frame. The ceramist can easily
install the brickwork in it, but must have some expertise in
electrical work in order to do the wiring. <see work plant>

scpx6.gif (600x600)

Usually ball clays and China clays can be dried and crushed to
walnut size or finer. When mixed with water, the clays will break
down to a very fine particle size (minus 325 mesh). All non-clay
materials (silica, feldspar, limestone, talc, etc.) should be
ground to 200 mesh or finer. A ball mill can be used for this.
Once the raw materials are in a useable size (200 mesh), batch
the ceramic body ingredients by either of two methods: weighing
on a scale, or using specific volumes for each ingredient.
For slip casting, the raw materials are mixed with water in the
clay blungers.  Sodium silicate and soda ash are added to the
materials in the blunger to control specific gravity and casting
properties.  Body scrap can be recycled in the clay blungers
along with new raw materials.
Ceramic body for the potter's wheel is made by using the muller.
Dry raw materials are added to the muller. Water is added until a
stiff workable mass is developed.
After the ware is removed from the plaster mold and the potters'
wheel, it must be dried sufficiently to allow handling. The
cleaned greenware must be dried before decorating and glazing and
the glazed ware must be dried before firing. Any moisture left in
the glazed ware will cause the ware to crack and fall apart during
the kiln firing process.
Unless otherwise stated, these addresses are in the United
1.  Technical Manuals & Textbooks
Pitman Publishing Ltd., 39 Parker St., London WC2B 5PB
publishes a series of books on ceramics under Ceramic Skillbooks:
Kiln Building, Glazes, oriental Glazes, Pottery Science, Working
with Porcelain, Saltglaze, clays, etc.
Green, D., Pottery, Materials, and Techniques: A Handbook of
Pottery Glazes, Watson Guptill Publications, 1515 Broadway, New
York, New York 10036.
Kingery, W.D., Introduction to Ceramics, John Wiley & Sons, New
Newlson, G. C., Ceramics: A Potter's Handbook, Holt Rinehart
Winston Publishers, 383 Madison Ave., New York, New York 10017
Elements of Ceramics, Norton. Addison Wesley Press, Cambridge,
Rhodes, D., Clays and Glazes for the Potter, Chilton Book Co.,
Radnor, Pennsylvania.
2.  Periodicals
Ceramic Industry                Bulletin American Ceramic Society
275 Washington St.              65 Ceramic Drive
Newton, Massachusetts 02158     Columbus, Ohio 43214 USA
Ceramica Y Cristal Argentina     Claycraft
F. Lacroze                       London & Sheffield Publishing Co.
215 Buenos Aires 1426            Stamford House 65-66 Turnmill St.
Argentina                        London EC1M 5RA England
Popular Ceramics
PO Box 6466
Glendale, California 92105 USA
3.  Trade Associations
Tile Council of America, Inc.
P. O. Box 326
Princeton, New Jersey 08542 USA
4.  Equipment Suppliers, Engineering Companies
Ceramic Glazes, Colors, etc.:
FERRO Corp., 4150 56th St., Cleveland, Ohio 44101 USA, plus sales
offices and plants in many other   countries
Enamelnager, Ltd.                 Hommel Company
28/8 Garight Rd.                  Hope Street
Calcutta, India                   Carnegie, Pennsylvania 15105 USA
Duncan Ceramic Products,          Blythe Mathey, Ltd.
PO Box 7827                       195 Heart Lake Rd.
Fresno, California 93727 USA      South Brampton, Ontario
Harper, Inc., W. Drullar Sreet, Lancaster, New York 14086 USA
Alpine, Inc., 3051 Fujita St., Torrance, California 90505 USA
Aten, Inc., 5721 Odana Rd., Madison, Wisconsin 53719 USA
5.  Directories
Ceramic Source 1986               Ceramic Industry Buyers Guide
American Ceramic Society
6.  VITA Resources
Understanding the Small-Scale Clay Products Enterprise, by Miska
Petersham.  Volunteers in Technical Assistance, Arlington,
Virginia, 1984.
Understanding Clay Recognition and Processing, by Miska Petersham.
Volunteers in Technical Asistance, Arlington, Virginia,