Aug 08 2019

The development of ceramics

Ceramic is and remains the most popular material for bathrooms among planners and interior architects. Clearly, this has to do with practical, aesthetic and functional reasons. The material has proved its value for decades in wet rooms and lavatories and is an indispensable element of bathrooms. However, there is not just one type of ceramic: Besides vitreous china and fine fireclay, the patent-pending SaphirKeramik from Swiss manufacturer Laufen is revolutionising the bathroom design market. 

The bathroom revolution

In the past, vitreous china and fine fireclay were used to manufacture ceramic sanitary ware – and for good reason: They are hygienic, robust and recyclable. While vitreous china boasts a special surface density – water absorption of about 0 – fine fireclay is mainly used for larger ceramic pieces such as double sinks. 

Since 2013, however, both types of ceramics have been getting competition in the bathroom: SaphirKeramik developed by Swiss manufacturer Laufen.The innovative material is a very hard ceramic, whose special properties can be attributed to the addition of the mineral corundum, a colourless component of sapphire. 

“This ceramic makes it possible to consider completely new shapes – and became the favourite of many bathroom planners right from the start. It combines traditional ceramic qualities with a new spectrum of shapes,” explains Michael Kindl, Managing Director of Laufen.

For the first time, it is possible to produce very thin, extremely robust ceramic tubs with striking edges. Tight edge radii of one to two millimetres can be created, whereas with traditional ceramics seven to eight millimetres are “state of the art”. 

SaphirKeramik – a material revolution that has changed the bathroom landscape for years to come. For a long time, only round, voluminous shapes were conceivable; today, it is all about thin-walled designs. The trend towards flat looks and a cool feel has also made its way into the bathroom and become an essential design feature.

Anyone swept off their feet by the filigree lines and graceful aesthetics of a washbasin made of SaphirKeramik will not want to go back to the bulbous appearance of a vitreous china sink. Compared to the new materials, traditional bathroom ceramics seem bulky and voluminous and are the exact opposite of the lightness desired in interior design.

Properties and potential of SaphirKeramik

The new ceramic is the result of Laufen’s many years of research and development. It is twice as strong, more ecological and thinner than traditional ceramic. The material is significantly harder and has a higher flexural strength.

As a result, Laufen is able to produce thinner ceramic bodies in a simpler structure, which reduces the weight compared to conventional ceramic. The advantages are evident: Lower consumption of raw materials and energy in production and reduced transport costs. 

Four Laufen design lines have already demonstrated the extraordinary design potential of the revolutionary SaphirKeramik material: “living square” bowls designed by Andreas Dimitriardis and washbasins from the “Kartell by Laufen” collections created by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, “VAL” by Konstantin Grcic and “INO” developed by Toan Nguyen.

All of the collections stand out for their simple, architectural lines, narrow edges and fine surface structures. Although it has been five years since SaphirKeramik was launched, the potential of the material and its range of application are far from exhausted.

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