9 tips for designing with ceramics

7th December 2015

There are many types and varieties of ceramics used today. These have a wide range of characteristics that can be tuned for performance and aesthetic requirements.

Ceramic materials are classified as inorganic and non-metallic. The engineers behind ceramic materials design the processes in which these products can be made, create new types of ceramic products, as well as find different uses for the products that can help us live our everyday lives. We are surrounded by ceramics. The category of materials includes things such as plates, glass, toilets, pottery, bricks, and tiles. They can also be found in watches, snow ski, automobiles, and even phone lines. Varying on their method of formation, a product made from ceramics can be dense or lightweight.

Typical properties include strength and hardness, but the material is naturally brittle, thus why it needs to be handled appropriately.

It is also possible for ceramics to be formed to serve as conductive materials, objects that allow electricity to pass through their mass, as well as being insulators – those that prevent the flow of electricity.

Whatever the final material chosen, the following 9 tips are good pointers to follow:


Be focused, clear and specific on your end use and the likely numbers required from the start of your design process

Be aware that ceramic materials shrink when fired

Fine detail tends to be lost during contraction or glaze application.

Ceramics contract to +/- 2% variation on a given size. This means that not every piece will be dimensionally the same and needs to be allowed for in the design.

Keep wall thicknesses even, ideally in the range 3 to 5 mm. Mixtures of thick and thin cross sections will be difficult to produce in most cases and will lead to cracking or distortion on firing.


Create 90º (sharp) corners, use flowing curves or small radii where necessary. Sharp angles create stress points and potential cracks in the finished piece.

Create a design that is “top heavy.”

Generally, it is better to keep the mass of the product at the base of the design.

Have large, flat surfaces – they will often distort in the kiln and lead to buckling, or damage to the piece.

We are always happy to help and advise on every aspect of design and production in ceramics. Get in touch with Wade Ceramics to find out more…

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