Ball clays are sedimentary (kaolinitic) and used in ceramic and pottery application. Ball clays comprises three dominant minerals; kaolinite (20%-80%), mica (10%-25%) and quartz (6%-65%). In addition, there are other accessory minerals and some carbonaceous material (derived from ancient plants) present in ball clay. There is a variation in mineral composition and size of ball clay particles thus, they have different characteristics.
The physical properties of ball clay vary hence used according in various end user industries. However, the general properties of ball clay includes; moisture content between 18% to 22% and are available in various colors, for instance, white, different shades of gray and brown, pink, tan, black and the shades in between.
Ball clay has high plastic nature and has a higher binding power than kaolin. Furthermore, the tensile strength and shrinkage is better than other clays used for various pottery and ceramic application. Ball clay is utilized after mixing with non-plastic clay to impart the desired plasticity in pottery, porcelain and refractory materials. Additionally, ball clay helps in the preparation of glaze, enamels and for imparting a dense vitrified body.
Ball clay is extracted by using mechanical equipment, hydraulic \"back-hoe\" excavators. It is one of the popular equipment used for ball clay extraction. Individual raw clay selections are blended carefully after its extraction by back-hoe excavators, according to pre-determined recipes to provide a product with a consistent and predictable range of characteristics and behavior. The first stage of ball clay processing is to shred (or ‘kibble’) the blended clay in smaller, and regular lumps. Much blended clay is sold in the shredded form; shredded ball clay undergoes the least amount of processing for further usage. Further processing of ball clay is through drying and grinding, it yields powdered plastic clays and ceramics manufacturers (particularly in the sanitaryware sector). Refined clays are available in ‘noodled’ and slurried form. Ball clays are sold in a partially dried form, which consist of golf ball size materials that are not powdered. Some of the key applications of ball clay include; sanitary-ware, tableware, wall and floor tiles, glazes and engobes, for refraction purpose, in construction ceramics and electrical porcelain insulators. Furthermore, it is also used in construction, agriculture, and amenity industries. In these industries ball clay is used as fillers and extenders in polymers, sealants, adhesives, plastics, fertilizers and insecticides. Ball clays are produced in relatively small quantities compared to other clays.
The increasing industry applications of ball clay, for instance, demand in tile market is further augmenting the growth of market. The demand of ball clay in construction industry especially in Asia Pacific and Middle East, followed by South America has led to increase in production of ball clay in past few years and the trend is projected to remain the same in next few years. In Asia Pacific the ball clay deposits are operated and developed in Thailand, Malaysia, China and Vietnam among other countries.
Some of the key manufacturers of ball clay are, G&W Mineral Resources, WBB Minerals Ltd., Imerys Minerals Ltd, and Ashapura Minichem Ltd among others.
This research report analyzes this market on the basis of its market segments, major geographies, and current market trends. Geographies analyzed under this research report include
- North America
- Asia Pacific
- Rest of the World
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