Porcelain is an advanced form of white, transparent, high quality pottery.
It was invented in China in the 8th century. The main ingredients consist of kaolin clay, feldspars and quartz. Formed products are bisquit-fired at a temperature of 920-980°C and then sent for a second glaze-firing at a temperature of 1280-1460°C. Porcelain is impermeable to liquids and gases, highly resistant to attrition and is used in engineering as an insulator.
It is also resistant to chemical attack (which makes it perfect for lab equipment). Marco Polo was the first to mention porcelain in Europe.Two hundred years later Vasco da Gama, apart from silk and spices, brought porcelain to Europe. Despite this the technology of porcelain production in Europe was invented only in the 18th century by Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. His work was continued by Johann Friedrich Böttger – alchemist of Augustus II the Strong that worked at Dresden and Meissen. The first hard, white European porcelain was produced in 1709. Then the company was moved from Dresden to Meissen, with the Meissen factory established in 1710. At the time, the porcelain market (primarily imported from China) was developing rapidly. Many called porcelain "white gold" because of its value and considered it as a work of art. Porcelain became more common only in the 1920s, being used more in the form of a gift.
Porcelain of the 18th century can be divided into hard and soft, depending on the ingredients used to make the body of the porcelain. In 1745 in England bone china was produced: a soft-paste porcelain composed of kaolin, feldspathic material and bone ash. New designs and patters started to emerge in the 19th century and today porcelain is commonly found across the world. The production of porcelain is now automated which allows to produce high quantity series of products. Nowadays it is even possible to decorate using laser technique; however, hand made porcelain is still the most precious.
Porcelain production is a complex process consisting of various, closely-connected stages. Firstly, materials need to be made using body and glaze. After that the product is formed into a shape (using moulds). Other methods consists of granulate pressing and injection moulding. After that it is bisquit-fired at a temperature of 960°C and then sent for a second glaze-firing at a temperature of 1380°C. After firing the products are grinded, polished, sorted and categorized into sets. Porcelain can be used and sell in its white form, but it is the decorations that make it truly charming. Decorating can be hand made, laser printed or labeled. Decorations are divided into overglazed and inglazed, in both cases the porcelain is sent for a second glaze-firing at a temperature of 800°C (overglaze) or 1250°C (inglaze). The primary resources used for production of the porcelain and the glaze are aquired in 80% from imported materials which results un the level of over 7% whiteness and over 21% transparency. Products are thermo proof and highly resistant to attrition. Porcelain can be divided into two main categories: hard paste (40%-60% kaolin, 20-30% feldspar. 20-30% quartz) and soft paste (25-40% kaolin, 25-40% feldspar, 30-45% quartz).