The Porcelain Enamel

Porcelain enamel is a mixture of mineral content glass and inorganic pigments fused to a steel substrate at temperatures exceeding 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme temperature literally melts and fuses the pigments to the steel, forming a molecular bond and creating a permanent coating.

Graphics are applied with glass-based inks by a variety of methods including traditional screen printing, stenciling and a high resolution photographic process. Each color is applied and fired one layer at a time. This process produces the most visually striking and durable signage material available.

Common Applications

Interpretive and wayfinding signage for national,

state, and local parks, zoos, aquariums and municipalities.

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What is porcelain enamel?

In general terms, vitreous enamel, porcelain enamel, copper enamel and jewelry enamel all refer to the same thing. Enamel is a glassy compound applied to and bonded by heat (fusion) to a metal surface; to a copper surface at 1450 degrees F., and to a glass surface at 1100 degrees F. to 1500 degrees F.

The most common glass is a fusion of silica, soda, lime, and a small amount of borax. Though normally transparent, various amounts of opacity can be produced by adding or growing crystals within the glass structure. A wide range of colors are produced by incorporating certain elements, mostly transition metals.

The physical properties of glass can be controlled to permit bonding to most metals, for example, gold, platinum, silver, copper, steel, cast iron and titanium.

The word ‘Porcelain Enamel’ refers to the glass material as well as to the finished product.

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The Porcelain Enamel Industry

Porcelain enamel has been around for 4000 years and shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. Although alternative materials like stainless steel, plastics and paints continue to gain market share and have completely taken over some markets, such as dishwashers, the cooking and laundry appliance markets remain strong, and total frit production remains about the same. However, some manufacturers believe a huge revolution in materials technology is needed to ensure the continued success of the industry. Both suppliers and manufacturers are doing their share to help ensure that this revolution takes place.

Porcelain enamel coatings are made from a frit based on low melting temperature (2000 to 2500°F) borosilicate glasses. After the glass raw materials are melted (generally in recuperative furnaces) at rates ranging from 5 to 50 tons per day, rapid quenching is used to shatter the resultant glass into small particles. Further particle size reduction is achieved by grinding. The coating is applied using wet suspension or dry electrostatic powder processes, and is then heated to about 1500°F to produce chemical bonding with the metal substrate.

Pre-milled frits now allow enamelers to custom blend their own enamel formulations without using costly milling equipment. The enameler can blend the exact amount required for the job, eliminating waste. Blends can be made almost “just in time,” eliminating the need for a large wet enamel inventory.

Many frit manufacturers have switched from air/gas to oxygen/gas combustion systems to lower their emissions, and this trend is expected to continue. Smelters have become more automated, and larger capacities are being used as product volumes increase through the increased standardization of frits.

For instance, unique appearance characteristics are under development, including metallic lusters to simulate copper metal or stainless steel appearances. Refinements in frit products are also being made to achieve “easy to clean” oven coatings, as well as infrared reflectivity for faster cooking. In addition, hybrid coatings are being investigated to take advantage of properties provided by both porcelain enamel and organic coatings.

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Safety Issues of porcelain enamel

Now for the safety issues. Porcelain enamels are very fine particles and it is important that you use every precaution when handling this product. This involves not only how they are stored, but care when using this powder. Containers that are airtight with a clear top should be used for storage purposes.

These minute razor-sharp pieces of glass can be easily breathed in and it is vital that a respirator with sufficient NS rating – NS97 and good ventilation are available during usage. Wear a respirator when cleaning up an area and use only wet rags, damp wipes, or moist paper towels. Use good judgment in handling this potentially dangerous material.

Your product should have come with the Material Safety Data Sheet from OSHA. Read it for any safety precautions and information. Remember when learning how to porcelain enamel be safe!

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Advantages of Porcelain Enamel Cookware

Safe

The first advantage of porcelain enamel cookware is its safety compared to teflon, cast iron and aluminium pots and pans; the teflon pans, indeed, scratch themselves after an intense use and release toxic chemical materials. Cast iron and aluminium pots, on the other hand, react with acid ingredients such as vinegar, lemon and egg yolks.

It is important to buy high quality porcelain enamel cookware, so that the coating remains always in good condition, without scratches and cracks, also after an intense use.

Nonstick

In cooking, the enamel porcelain kitchenware is ideal to prepare tasty dishes while, at the same time, helping you to stay in good shape; indeed, just a small amount of fat (butter, oil etc.) is needed to prevent food from sticking to the pan. If you are on a diet, consider buying some porcelain enamel pots that will help you to reduce cooking fats and oils!

Cooks omogeneously

Furthermore porcelain tends to distribute homogeneously the heat, allowing you to cook rapidly and efficiently. This will benefit the quality of the food you eat, by making it tender and uniformly cooked while preserving its organoleptic properties. As a result, porcelain enamel cookware is ideal for preparing meat and fish dishes.

Versatile

Chefs use porcelain enamel to cook a wide variety of different foods because, unlike most of the nonstick cookware, it can go both in the oven and in the microwave. Imagine using your porcelain enamel casserole to prepare a delicious truffle lasagna, or your enamel pot to cook creamy soups and sauces.

Easy cleaning

Another advantage of the porcelain enamel cookware is that it is easy to clean: you just need a quick wipe with a dish sponge & detergent to clean it fast and properly! The advantage is twofold: on one hand, you will be able to use less detergent and thus avoid polluting the environment; on the other hand, using less hot water will allow you to save precious money on your bills.

Durable

A porcelain enamel pot does cost more than other nonstick pots like those in aluminium or teflon, but unlike them it is an heirloom piece that you can pass on to your sons and daughters.

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Porcelain Enamel Cookware: everything You Need to Know

20190108Nowadays porcelain enamel kitchenware makes a beautiful impression in kitchens all over the word. Porcelain enamel indeed seduces both food enthusiasts and design lovers because combines performance and aesthetics. But… which is the difference between porcelain and porcelain enamel?

As many of you may know, porcelain is a type of ceramic that is composed mostly of a white clay called kaolin with the addition of feldspars, quartz, steatite and other substances. The whole compound is cooked at 1300-1400 degrees. As well as clay and glass ceramics, porcelain may be glazed or not.

The porcelain enamel cookware is made by melting the porcelain together with a stronger metal component. That’s why the enamel porcelain is characterized by high hardness and low porosity. And that’s why porcelain enamel kitchenware is at once strong, durable and lightweight.

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Manufacturing Techniques of Porcelain Enamel

There are two major groups of standard process steps used in manufacturing porcelain enamel materials:

Surface preparation is for removal of soil, oil, corrosion and similar dirt from the basis material. The clean surface allows the porcelain enamel to bond well with the basis material.

Coating, including ball milling and enamel application. Ball milling is performed to mix and grind frit and other raw materials, forming an enamel slip of appropriate consistency for a particular application.

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Water Use of Porcelain Enamel

The cleaning processes for removing oil and dirt employ water based alkaline cleaners. Acid pickling solutions are used to remove oxides and corrosion and to etch the surface of the workpiece. Water is also used to rinse the basis material after it has been cleaned by the above listed processes.

A water solution of nickel salts is used in nickel flash operations in the steel subcategory.

The ball milling operation uses water for washing out the ball mills between mixing batches and for cooling the ball mills. During application of the porcelain enamel slip, water may be used as a curtain device for entrapping waste slip from overspray.

The characteristics of the wastewater generated by a porcelain enameling facility may vary depending on basis material cleaning and coating.

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What is the Porcelain Enamel Industry?

Porcelain enamel is the application of glass-like coatings to metals such as steel, cast iron, aluminum or copper. The purpose of the coating is to improve resistance to chemicals, abrasion and water and to improve thermal stability, electrical resistance and appearance.

The coating applied to the workpiece is a water based slurry called a “slip” and is composed of one of many combinations of frit (glassy like material), clays, coloring oxides, water and special additives such as suspending agents.

These vitreous inorganic coatings are applied to the metal by a variety of methods such as spraying, dipping, and flow coating, and are bonded to the base metal at temperatures in excess of 500 °C (over 1000 °F). At these temperatures, finely ground enamel frit particles fuse and flow together to form the permanently bonded, hard porcelain coating.

At the time of the 1982 rulemaking there were approximately 130 porcelain enamel facilities in the United States.

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Porcelain Enamel History

Down through the ages, artists, inventors and scientists have searched for materials that are both beautiful and enduring.

The Egyptians inlaid glass in metal frames in 2000 BC. Greek craftsmen advanced the art form by applying sufficient heat to fuse the metal and glass. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, the technology spread throughout Europe.

The continued existence of these artifacts fashioned centuries ago, is testimony to the timeless beauty and permanence of Porcelain Enamel.

Though all of us use porcelain enamel products everyday, it is something that few of us are aware of on a conscious level. We bathe in porcelain enamel bathtubs. Use porcelain enamel sinks, lavatories, stoves, ovens, washing machines, dryers and water heaters without a thought about that beautiful, glassy finish.

We walk through buildings sheathed in porcelain enamel and read signs of porcelain enamel. The operating rooms of many hospitals are porcelain enamel. Our children write on porcelain enamel boards at school, and we barbecue on porcelain enamel grills. It is present in an amazing number of applications that we encounter in our daily schedule.