Over the past few months NETZSCH-CONDUX has successfully put in operation two lines of its new technology s-Jet® into the ultrafine manufacturing of Ceramic Pigments for the Ceramic Inkjet Ink purpose.
This technology is an advanced development of the NETZSCH Trockenmahltechnik GmbH well known Air Jet mill, using high pressure overheated steam instead of air as grinding media. The use of steam offers a much higher impact velocity as well as a completely new possibilities in the classification process, leading to fineness never seen before in the Ceramic Pigment industry (a very narrow particle distribution curve down to d50 ≈ 0.45 µm / d99 < 1.2 µm).
The use of such fine and narrow distributed pigments into Ceramic Inkjet Inks has a direct influence in very significant decrement of the wet grinding time. Apart from the obvious consequences of optimizing the bottle neck of the process, and energy cost reduction, there is another and even more important set of advantages derived from the shorter wet process of the ink; It is a well-known fact that wet milling using micro-beads below 0.5 mm creates an increasing amount of ultrafine particles of pigment into the final ink. This ultrafine fraction has a very negative effect in colorimetric, rheological and reactivity of the ink and has been a constant nuisance for the developers of Ceramic Inkjet Inks. The narrower pigment curve from the s-Jet® as well as the shorter wet grinding times, results into a much narrower curve of the ink with less ultrafines and therefore color strength (especially in yellow and red brown inks) which will set new standards in the digital decoration of ceramic tiles.
These two improvements, cost reduction and increase of ink quality, will be of extraordinary importance for NETZSCH customers who adopt the s-Jet® dry grinding technology, in order to be more competitive in the fast growing Ceramic Inkjet Inks market.
Two more lines will be delivered during first Quarter of 2014, confirming the market acceptance of above mentioned advantages.
On top of that, this new dry grinding technology has open new manufacturing possibilities in the field of tile manufacturing and decoration, such as digital glazing, “simultaneous” drying and grinding of ceramic slurries in the submicron range, etc.