Over the last several years, technology has had an immense global impact on most major flooring classifications (tile, laminate, hardwood, etc…). This is especially true when referencing technological strides made in regard to the manufacturing of porcelain and ceramic tile.
One of the most notable, and often referenced, technological advancements pertaining to hard surfaces - which led to a broader spectrum of design innovations within the field, came from advancements made in the realms of digital printing. Innovative strides here have forever changed how we view porcelain and ceramic tile in relation to combining the functionality of a tiled surface with its aesthetic capabilities. Strides taken to revitalize the availability of shapes, sizes, textures, finishes, and thicknesses have helped improve the variety of application options that are available in the market, and have helped provide a refreshing take on spaces that designers were previously unable to develop due to cost or installation limitations.
Manufacturers have been able to both capitalize on the utilization of these technologies, and help bring the industry to new heights by introducing products that promote innovation within all aspects of the industry. According to Jana Manzella, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the American manufacturer Florim “the versatility of indoor and outdoor usage, the enhanced technical characteristics that create grip finish options and an unbeatable life expectancy, along with the wide array of designs, has spiked growth in both the residential and commercial market” 1 , and this growth is due, in large part, to the dedication of manufacturers to provide innovative products at prices that become more and more affordable as the processes become more refined.
With the refinement in manufacturing processes, as they pertain to digital printing, we are able to take any source material that can be found in and out of nature, put it on a scanner, and reproduce the scanned image in high definition onto the surface of any porcelain or ceramic tile. This has infinite potential to create hard surfaces with a variety of unique patterns, colours, and textural elements – such as those seen in our Savana, Sahara Noir, or Versace© Eterno series’; as well as various woodgrain, natural stone and semi-precious gem mimics, seen in our Asheville, Aral, Perseo, and Agata Blue Slab series’.
Just as the industrial revolution brought about significant changes in the way we interacted with – and marketed, our resources as finished products, the various revolutions in tile manufacturing have brought us significant changes in how we approach the possibilities of tile in regard to design. Perhaps most notably, it has encouraged valuable competition between manufacturers, which has resulted in a myriad of developmental advances that continually push the limits of what we can achieve using variations of this technology.
Categorically, unlike the industrial revolution, many of the innovations made in the manufacturing of tile did not happen at the expense of our health and environment. In fact, the opposite is most often the norm rather than the exception.
At Eksa, environmental sustainability is one of the biggest factors that we consider in regard to selecting the manufacturers we work with. Fortunately, we are able to work with manufacturers whose top priority is also environmental sustainability and we have fostered remarkable relationships with them due, in large part, to our shared beliefs. Energie Ker, one of the manufacturers we have partnered with, has invested 75 million dollars (CAN) over the last 10 years to develop greener practices in their manufacturing, and a lot of the elements used in the manufacturing of the porcelain and ceramic tiles we carry – both from Energie Ker and other manufacturers, are comprised of raw materials typically found close to the respective manufacturing facilities – thus minimizing the consumption of fuel and transportation costs.
Additionally, the facilities that manufacture our tile do so via closed loop processes – “those that reuse material waste created during the production process for additional products, as well as use the recycled products to create new items” 2 , which is an especially green method of manufacturing that we are very happy to stand behind.
Pair those qualities with the fact that properly installed tile has a lifespan doubling and sometimes tripling the maximum lifespans of other products used in similar installations, and you have an amazingly resilient product that can add fantastic design elements to virtually any space – all due to revolutionary and innovative practices only limited by our imaginations.