Terra-Cotta Technology

Centuries old…still cutting edge!

Oven2NeaCera® has achieved a breakthrough in advanced quality which could only be realized with the new and most up-to-date ISO 9001 European production lines. The fully robotic, superior processing of our high quality raw materials and double dried clay processed into the finest homogeneous powder, along with the high temperature firing process guarantees an unsurpassed level of quality.

Graffiti Protection that is extremely efficient, long-lasting and immediately effective is inherent in our production process. The way it’s supposed to be: Baked-in protection that will last the entire serviceable life. Efficient, lasting and effective the day it’s produced.

1. Raw Material Mining

ConveyerNeaCera® Panels are made exclusively from the natural raw materials consisting of clay, quartz, silt and water that are mined in the immediate vicinity of the production plant in the Westerwald region of Germany. Clay and silt constitute the main components of the material that is later fired using the high temperature firing process. Both raw materials were formed during and after glacial periods as a result of the decomposition of felspar.

Combined with water, the specially mined Westerwald clays turn into a plastic raw material with a very fine-grained structure that provides extreme stability in the course of the firing process.

Following our commitment and respect to the environment, the mining pits are re-cultivated and restored after their use.

2. Transport

Since the source of raw material is in close proximity to the production plant, material hauling is minimal saving fuel and reducing emissions.

3. Processing – Extrusion

A) Box Feeder

After its arrival at the plant, the raw material is fed for processing via box feeders to ensure the optimum proportions. Water is added to the raw material mixture and it is processed to a fine-grained mass by wheels weighing several tons.

B) Pan Grinder

In the pan grinder, the mass is further mixed and ground into fine grains.

C) Roller mill

In the roller mill, the mill material is again ground to particles smaller than 0.8 mm. and in some cases down to 0.035 mm. This extensive refining provides a very fine, high density, high strength material.

D) Round Feeder

RoundFeederThe material continues on by conveyor into a sieving round feeder.

Water is added and it is pressed into small uniform strands of clay.

The refined strands are clump-free, constituting an ideal modeling material.

 

 

E) Vacuum Extrusion

VacuumExtrusion1The raw material is now fed into the vacuum extruding press.

Extruding the clay in a vacuum press eliminates even the smallest air bubbles, eliminating any possibility for porosity or cavities.

The clay is extruded under very high pressure into an endless panel that is rough cut into panels by a razor-sharp cutting wire.

 

 

4. Dryer

The panels are now conveyed into a continuous drying oven to extract the moisture. This drying process is the basic pre-condition for the subsequent processing.

5. Engobe-Slip/Glazing Station

EngobeStationIn the course of engobe slipping, the most common kind of finish coating, a spray machine coats the dried panels in a fine mist of clay slurry.

In the course of the baking, the engobe slip fuses into the actual body to form a single unit. This processing allows for a fine, smooth durable surface and the addition of color.

NeaCera® engobed and Glazed panels will be attractive even after decades on your building.

 

 

6. Pre-Heater

The pre-treated panels must pass through the pre-heater before being conveyed into the tunnel furnace.

7. Tunnel Furnace

TunnelFurnaceNeaCera® Panels are fired at temperatures exceeding 2200° F in a long tunnel furnace. This process takes several hours to be completed. As a result of the enormous heat, the clay is compressing and hardening. The panels shrink in the course of this process, but at the same time, the density is increasing.

The casting rate can mainly be attributed to two kinds of processes in the furnace:

1. Transformation of crystals at 1022° -1112° F.

2. A certain proportion of hyaline melted mass is created that cements the un-melted parts to each other in the course of the cooling.

8. Cooling Cell

As soon as the baking procedure is completed, the panels are cooled back down to room temperature using gigantic ventilators.

9. Cutting

CuttingAfter firing the panels proceed to a computer controlled cutting room where a series of diamond blade wet saw cut each panel to its finished size, followed by a spray wash.

Panel length is controlled to a tolerance of plus 0”, minus .039”.

 

 

 

10. Quality Inspection

Every panel must pass through a series of laser scanners that measure the panel dimensions and surface to ensure that quality tolerances have been met. Material not within the quality standards are automatically conveyed into a bin for recycling. Additionally, each panel is visually inspected to verify the aesthetic demands are met. A percentage of all panels are randomly selected for further manual quality inspection. At this station a panel goes through a ten (10) step process to make certain all of the production equipment and laser scanners remain properly calibrated.

11. Bundling/Packaging

Panels receive a protective strip of polymer on the finished surface before being bundled using recyclable polypropylene bands. Panel bundles are placed on each pallet by a robot arm which greatly minimizes potential scratches or other damage to the panels. Each pallet is labeled and machine shrink-wrapped in polyethylene.

12. Loading

The pallets are ready for loading into shipping containers for transportation to the job site. All material movement around the plant and loading areas are done by unmanned robotic forklifts.