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Creating Prototypes of Tiles: The Role of 3D Modeling in the Design Process

 |  SelfCAD University

Creating Prototypes of Tiles and How to Use 3D Designing in the Process

3D designing tiles

                                                                       Floor tiles Image source: Freepik

Tiles are used for many purposes, ranging from flooring in bathrooms to kitchens, rooftops, and parking lots. It is also used for tabletops in the dining room. The tiles are manufactured using materials like glass stone, ceramic, porcelain, or metal. We can use the tiles for decorative or aesthetic purposes. They are available in several sizes and shapes, colors and textures. Today, tiles are preferred as compared to graphite because it has many advantages, which includes:

  1. Easy to install
  2. Strain resistant
  3. Scratch-resistant
  4. Low maintenance
  5. It does not fade when exposed to sunlight.

Classification of Tiles and their Design: 

Different types of tiles are used for floors, interiors, walls, and bathrooms.

Ceramic Tiles:

These types of tiles are mainly used for flooring. These tiles are made up of clay and silica, prepared hard and stiff at high temperatures. There are two types of designs are available in ceramic tiles: 1) Glazed tiles 2) Quarry tiles.

1) Glazed Tiles:

Glazed tiles are prepared using glaze coating, which is added after firing ceramic tiles, so as to get a different texture and color. These tiles are available in good designs and different colors as compared to quarry tiles. The main advantage of these tiles is that they can resist stains and scratches, and do not fade when exposed to sunlight.

3D designing tiles

  Fig2: Glazed Tiles.

 2) Quarry Tiles:

These are the unglazed tiles. Due to their roughness and skid resistance, these tiles are mostly used in footpaths and parking lots. These tiles are available in different shapes like rectangle, square, hexagonal shapes and also come in different colors like gray, red, and brown color.

3D designing tiles

   Fig3: Quarry Tiles.

Porcelain Tiles:

Porcelain tiles are manufactured using finely grained clay heated at very high temperatures. These tiles are costlier than ceramic tiles because they are stronger, denser, and absorb moisture as compared to ceramic tiles. These tiles are used in both indoor and outdoor rooms.

3D designing tiles

                                                        Fig4: Porcelain Tiles.

Vitrified Tiles:

Vitrified tiles contain materials like clay and silica, and these tiles are harder and stiffer than ceramic tiles. The water absorption rate is low. Vitrified tiles are available in varying thicknesses, colors, and styles.


3D designing tiles

                                                    Fig5: Vitrified Tiles.

The various types of vitrified tiles are:

1) Glazed vitrified tiles

2) Porcelain vitrified tiles

3) Double charge vitrified tiles

Glass Tiles:

Glazed tiles are eco-friendly tiles. They are composed of sand and recycled glass. These tiles are mostly used for decorative purposes in the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. Due to its popularity, it can be used in expensive places like commercial complexes, hotels, and palaces.


3D designing tiles

                                                                         Fig6: Glass Tiles.

Digital Tiles:

In digital tiles, surface digital printing technology is used in printing the high-resolution images on the glazed tile. The attractive looks on the glazed tiles are printed using this digital printing technology.

3D designing tiles

                                                    Fig7: Digital Tiles.

Mosaic Tiles:

Mosaic tiles are not extraordinary tiles, these tiles are arranged in smaller shapes on the wall in mosaic style. For aesthetic purposes, they are arranged layer by layer outside the wall. These tiles are most commonly used for walls, countertops, and backsplashes.


3D designing tiles

                                                                        Fig8: Mosaic Tiles.

How the Tiles are Prepared Before they are Produced

Tiles production unites earth and fire:

All over the world, the ingredient of tiles and its general manufacturing process is same. To manufacture the tiles, natural products are used that are extracted from the earth and then shaped into tiles. The tiles are fired in the kiln at a very high temperature.

There are 5 steps followed in the tile manufacturing process:

  1. Mining
  2. Blending
  3. Mixing
  4. Pressing
  5. Glazing
  6. Firing.

Step 1 is basic and organic.

The process is started with the quarry of the raw material, which is composed of mostly clay and minerals.

Step 2 transforms mud into fine sand.

The clay and mineral composition are mixed and blended into a semi-fine powder. To obtain a wet slurry or mud-like consistency, water is added to this mixture. Next, the slurry is pumped using a large dryer. Finally, the clay powder that feels warm is formed.

Step 3 sees a form take shape.

In the next step, press the clay and make it form a tile shape. The pressed tiles are called green tiles. The pressing method is replaced by another method called extrusion. The desired shapes of extruded tiles are formed by pressing the clay materials into the mold. Nowadays, pressing is the more common method.

Step 4 is the glaze phase.

The next step of the manufacturing process is to glaze the tiles. If you don’t want to glaze the tiles, skip this step and move straight to the firing kiln. The glaze liquid is manufactured from a glass derivative known as frit or colored dye. The glaze is applied using a high-pressure spray, or it is directly poured onto the tile.

Step 5 heats things.

In the last step, we fire the tiles in a kiln at a high temperature of about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. After the application of glaze, the tiles are fired once to produce single-fired tiles or monocoturra tile. If fired twice, the tiles are called biocuttura tiles.

Creating the Prototype of Tiles using CNC Machine and 3D Modelling:

Using 3D modeling software, we can create the prototypes of the tiles according to our desired specifications. Before the actual manufacturing process, we can use 3D modeling to prepare the prototypes and be able to see how the tiles look before the manufacturing process.

With 3D modeling software, you will be able to prepare realistic renders of the tiles that could have been hard to achieve using 2D programs or other methods.

Making changes to the design is easier in the event that changes are required. In 3D, we can easily make minor and major changes and corrections in the design without wasting resources. 

Additionally, if you are good in 2D drawing, you can draw the structure of the tiles then import it to the 3D modeling software like SelfCAD using the reference image too then use the various tools to convert the drawing into a 3D model. The video below shows how you can convert a sketch into a 3D model.

Also, creating 3D tiles need special preparation and this is where 3D modeling plays a great role. Preparing 3D prototypes using 2D programs requires a lot of time and work unlike when a 3D modeling software is used. Hence if you need to prepare 3D tiles to be produced or manufactured, it’s important to consider using a 3D design software like SelfCAD.

3D designigng tiles

After the design process, you can apply different textures based on your requirements with much ease. This makes the design of the tiles more realistic and it will also guide in the preparation of the final product.

SelfCAD has different materials that you can use to apply on your tiles and make them re

Advantages of 3D Modeling and 3D Printing in the Construction Industry:

1) Increases the accuracy in the design as the exact measurements can be taken during the design process.

2) Minimizes the wastage of materials, Hence saving on cost.

3) Increases the speed of construction. This is because any error or issues in the design can be identified early enough and fixed before the manufacturing begins.

6) Easy and safe optimization, and increases the potential of the construction sector.

7) Increased safety and Highly effective automation in the manufacturing process.

9) It gives versatile designs with great representation.

10) Highly effective automation in the building process.

We can easily make the prototype of tiles using 3D modeling and CNC machining by following this procedure:

1) Firstly, we arrange the computer to get the sense of what the tiles are going to look like in 3D when it is on a wall or floor. Then, we create the square shape.

2) We also create another one for an experiment which is this triangle pattern, and then make it into a hexagonal arrangement, or we can opt for a flower type of pattern.

3) Now, we have those two shapes as the basic shape. We are ready to bring in a CNC machine. Before we get on the CNC machine, we need to make a jig for the plasters. We then mix the plaster and pour it in.

4) We need to let it dry for about five days so the CNC won't clog it on the bits. Then, once we take it out, we need to file the top to make sure that it is flat.

5) The CNC is going to do the first rough cut, but it will be much easier to just take a few minutes to file the top. After filing at the top, we bring the model into the CNC machine.

6) Have the machine run over to make sure it’s the pattern that we are going to cut out, and that this is the process in the CNC.

7) We are using 1/8 of the round bit so all the corner was rounded, which suits the purpose of making the tile.

8) The first step is to try to pack the clay into the mold, and we will use the rubber hammer to make sure it's tight, and then cut the extra out and make sure it's all the way flat.

9) You need to wait for about 20 minutes to get it to shrink a little. It will dry a little before you can even pull out.

10) The surface won’t be completely smooth the first we try. This rough surface should be glazed with a very basic coat just to see how they turn out. You can try out the basic white color.

Enjoy powerful modeling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

3D designing tiles

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