From an individual product to a complete installation | by Andrea Serri
After exploiting the potential offered by Industry 4.0 technologies, the Italian ceramic industry is now taking a further major step forward in terms of its manufacturing capability. While the function of a ceramic factory has always been to process clay and create ceramic surfaces of every size and thickness, exploiting an industrial-level process to combine high production volumes with strict quality control, it is now taking on a new function: that of producing materials capable of covering all furnishing applications. While this might appear to be a small step, it is in fact a major revolution.
Following the early years when ceramic tiles were seen as little more than fired clay and their value as a commodity was measured in terms of their weight, the industry took a major step forward with the development of appealing modern designs that added decorative value to floors or walls. Tiles were installed in specific layouts or combinations with a decorative function or were used to create uniform surfaces in the heyday of minimalism.
With the advent of large-size ceramic panels and slabs in thicknesses ranging from extra-thin through to 2-3 centimetres for bathroom and kitchen countertops, the ceramic industry has now pushed back its horizons even further. Today its aim is to deliver all-round furnishing solutions covering everything from floors and walls to kitchen and bathroom furniture, including countertops, cupboard doors, table tops and even interior and exterior door and window frames, as well as furnishing accessories such as lamps and much more.
This marks the beginning of a major new period for the Italian ceramic industry and its products – a new chapter in a history that is just waiting to be written.