In recent years, ecology and sustainable production practices have become a matter of intense debate, both in the ceramic industry and elsewhere. While it is essential to focus on real issues rather than empty slogans, the problem is becoming increasingly urgent and can be put off no longer. This is demonstrated by the efforts made by many industrial sectors that have long been committed to ethics and sustainability.
For several years now, Zschimmer & Schwarz Ceramco has been pursuing an environmentally friendly vision based on a simple observation: water-based technology is the only way forward in the field of inkjet ceramic decoration.
The company began to look at more sustainable solutions back in 2013 when issues first began to emerge concerning the emission of polluting and odorous substances generated in the combustion phases of the ceramic production process. A pioneer in what until then had been an almost unexplored field, Z&S Ceramco immediately deployed resources and investments with the aim of developing effective solutions for the industry.
As early as 2014, the company introduced Aquacolor, the first collection of water-based digital inks developed during a year-long study of systems that are much more chemically complex than the standard oil-based inks then on the market. The company explored new parameters and gradually expanded its expertise.
The first product was launched at an industrial level in July 2014 through cooperation with several ceramic companies who were interested in addressing this challenge alongside Ceramco.
The product delivered excellent results in terms of technical performance and aesthetic quality. It almost entirely eliminated odorous and polluting emissions and offered evident technical advantages, including zero water-repellency between the glaze and the inks, superior colour development and reduction in surface defects thanks to the low content of organic chemical components present in the formulation.
However, as is often the case for pioneers undertaking research in previously unexplored fields, the development process was not without its obstacles or difficulties. After the first positive results, work on subsequent ceramic products showed that more time was needed as both the inks and the application technology needed further improvement.
With this in mind, Z&S Ceramco continued its research efforts aimed at optimising all aspects of the inks and in 2017 went on to launch the first collection of water-based digital glues.Aquabond is a highly innovative two-component glue with strong binding power which not only significantly improves printing definition and simplifies management of applied grit quantity but also drastically reduces the production of odorous and polluting emissions during industrial combustion stages in exactly the same way as for the inks.
Finally, in early 2019 Zschimmer & Schwarz Group launched a research project aimed at developing new water-based digital glazes called Aquaglaze. The project was carried out in collaboration with Ferro, a world-leading producer of frits, glazes, pigments and inks for the ceramic industry, and marked the natural continuation of Zschimmer & Schwarz’s previous two projects. The partnership with Ferro brings together the two brands’ expertise in pursuit of the shared goals of sustainability and a full-digital production process.
While fully aware of the remaining technical issues facing the production process and of the natural scepticism towards an uncertain future, Z&S Ceramco reaffirms its belief that water-based technology is the way forward. Following seven years of work, it is now ready to offer a wide range of products optimised for digital technology.
IN WATER WE TRUST
WHO'S WITH US?
Back to News