Porcelain is a form of ceramic material popular for its strength, durability, versatility, smooth texture, malleability, and strong resistivity to heat, chemical, and mechanical shock. Its development is associated with the Chinese as early as the 7th and 8th centuries, although its use has now spread all over the world.
Porcelain is a hard material made mainly of kaolinite, which is a type of clay-like mineral. It also contains feldspar, silica, quartz, and other additives that are meant to enhance its colour, texture, or strength.
To make porcelain, the kaolin and other additives are heated in a kiln at temperatures ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 °C (2,200 to 2,600 °F) to increase the material’s strength and flexibility and give it other specific qualities like a smooth texture. The precise heating temperature and additives during the manufacturing process depends on the type of porcelain under production.
This article discusses some common uses of porcelain while outlining the significant features that make the material distinct and useful in various ways. Certain distinct qualities make porcelain ideal for a wide range of applications, such as making tiles and flooring, tableware and dinnerware, dental restorations, insulators, laboratory equipment, and artwork.
#1. Making Tableware and Dinnerware
Due to its smooth surface and sophisticated appeal, porcelain is widely used to make everyday items like plate, saucers, bowls, cups, tea sets, and fine china. It also has an added advantage it can be moulded to produce uniquely and intricately designed dinnerware to make your dining table and room ambience stylish.
Porcelain is also popular for making dinnerware as it does not retain grease, oil, or fat stains as much as other materials like melamine and clay. This quality makes porcelain easier to clean and preserve and less likely to stain any fabric on your dining table.
Porcelain is also non-porous, meaning your porcelain dishes and bowls are less likely to absorb odours and bacteria, helping you maintain ideal hygiene standards in your kitchen.
You can also serve different types of foods on porcelain bowls and plates as the material is highly resistant to chemical shocks. It is also exceptionally stronger than melamine or stoneware. This quality makes porcelain products durable and easier to store or stack in high volumes
Porcelain food dishes retain heat better than most materials, keeping your food warm as you eat and enjoy your meal. The material has a strong ability to resist thermal shock without changing the taste or colour of your food when put in a freezer or microwave.
#2. Dental Restorations
Many dentists and patients prefer dental restorations made from porcelain, mainly because, unlike metal amalgam, they closely resemble the colour and shine of natural teeth and are more durable.
Moreover, porcelain’s strength and biocompatibility also make it useful in dentistry to make dental crowns, veneers, and bridges, sometimes known as “porcelain jackets.”
Often, porcelain restorations are better at withstanding chewing pressure and last longer than metal amalgam.
#3. Making Artwork, Sculptures, Figurines, and Decorations
Throughout history, porcelain has been used to make beautiful pottery, artwork, decorative vases and bowls, etc. For example, the King of Portugal is known to have decorated his Santos palace’s ceiling with 260 pieces of stunning Chinese porcelain in the 17th century.
Porcelain is highly versatile, easily moulded into distinct shapes, and can hold more intricate design details than most alternative materials. This quality makes porcelain ideal for making sculptures, figurines, and unique forms of decorations.
Other qualities that make porcelain the ideal construction material for different forms of decorations include its gracious texture, durability, and attractive range of colours.
A common example of ancient porcelain art is porcelain dolls, whose history can be traced back to the mid-19th century in Europe, specifically Italy, Germany, and France.
#4. Tiles, Flooring, and Paving
Porcelain is also widely used to make porcelain tiles, which are a popular construction material for residential and commercial buildings. For example, porcelain tiles are popularly used for the construction of bathroom floors.
Other housing areas that can benefit from porcelain decor include porcelain paving, worktops, shelves, ledges, and sills.
Porcelain tiles are easy to clean and maintain, durable, and highly rust- and water-resistant. They are also attractive and can be used for a wide range of decorative purposes.
The strength and toughness of porcelain tiles enable them to withstand pressure when installed in high-traffic areas of a building.
#5. Laboratory Equipment
Porcelain can be used to make numerous laboratory equipment due to its high resistivity to heat, chemical, and mechanical shock. Most laboratory equipment must b able to withstand chemical corrosion for practical and safety reasons.
Examples of the laboratory equipment commonly made from porcelain include crucibles, evaporating dishes, Buchner funnels, spotting plates, etc.
Since porcelain material is water and stain resistant, it is also used for making various appliances typically installed in sanitary rooms like bathtubs, washbasins, toilets, etc. Such porcelain surfaces are easy to clean and do not absorb odors and stains, which helps to maintain hygienic conditions in your bathroom, urinals, or washroom.
#7. Electrical Insulators
As we mentioned before, porcelain has high resistivity to thermal shocks. This quality makes the material great for making insulators for antennas, electrical equipment, and high-voltage cable terminals.
According to the American Ceramic Society, porcelain is a vital requirement for the production of electrical components in smartphones, televisions, cars, and computers.
The general qualities of porcelain that make it ideal for various uses include:
Durability: Highly resistant to scratching or chipping. Porcelain items can last for many generations.
Translucency: Porcelain’s ability to allow some light to pass through is especially useful in decorative items and fine china.
Non-porous: It does not absorb liquids easily and is therefore the hygienic option for making tableware and sanitaryware.
Stain-resistant: Dishes made from porcelain are easier to clean and maintain.
Heat-resistant: This quality means porcelain can be exposed to heat without losing its colour or form easily.
-Aesthetically appealing: it has an elegant, luxurious, and sophisticated appeal, making it ideal for making dinnerware.
Malleable: Porcelain can be moulded into varying shapes. This quality is useful for making decorations or artwork. It also makes porcelain multifunctional.
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