Ceramic Pigments and Decoration Techniques

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Decoration has a growing importance, as a means to add value to ceramic products, and is living a period of fast innovation rate for application techniques and materials used by the industry. CNR-ISTEC is contributing to set up new decoration technologies (e.g. ink jet printing, dry “screen printing”) by developing inks, powders and their functionalization and synthesis procedures, in order to improve yield, stability and durability in the ceramic process.

3_RES_2_ITA_PIGMENTI1Ceramic pigments are coloured crystals that are dispersed into a vitreous matrix, in which are insoluble, to impart colour by heterogeneous mixture. Ceramic pigments are widely used to colour tiles, tableware, sanitaryware, glazes and glasses. CNR-ISTEC is developing novel pigments, in collaboration with universities and companies in Italy and abroad, in order to improve optical properties, stability in the ceramic process, industrial manufacturing and cost, health and safety.

Examples: Hardystonite, blue, Ca2(Zn,Co)Si2O7. Hematite included in silica, red, [Fe2O3]SiO2. Srilankite, yellow, Zr(Ti1-x-ySnx-yVyYy)O4. Pyrochlore, purple, Ca3(Sn,Cr)2O7-d. Rutile, black, Ti1-x-yVxWyO2. Corundum, gray-blue, Al2O3-MoOx. Pseudobrookite, brown, Fe2TiO5.


Raimondo M., Dondi M., Guarini G., Zanelli C., Gambi N., Cani E., Vaccari A., Albonetti S., Technological and aesthetic performances of coloured sintered frits. Cfi/Ber. DKG, Ceramic Forum International, 87 [6-7] (2010) E43-E46.

Blosi M., Dondi M., Albonetti S., Baldi G., Barzanti A., Zanelli C.. Microwave-assisted synthesis of Pr-ZrSiO4, V-ZrSiO4 and Cr-YAlO3 ceramic pigments. J. Eur. Ceram. Soc., 29 (2009) 2951-2957.

P.M.T. Cavalcante, M. Dondi, G. Guarini, M. Raimondo, G. Baldi, Colour performance of ceramic nano-pigments. Dyes and Pigments, 80 (2009) 226-232.

Gardini D., Dondi M., Costa A.L., Matteucci F., Blosi M., Galassi C., Baldi G., Cinotti E., Nano-sized ceramic inks for drop-on-demand ink-jet printing in quadrichromy. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 8 [5] (2008) 1979-1988.

Costa A.L., Zama I., Matteucci F., Dondi M., Albonetti S., Baldi G., Hetero-coagulation-spray drying process for the inclusion of ceramic pigments. Journal of the European Ceramic Society 28 (2008) 169–176.


Decoration techniques: characterization of composition, particle size distribution, chemico-physical and rheological properties of products for ceramic decoration (inks, powders, grains, vehicles, ecc.) in order to understand and improve their technological behaviour. Rheological tests (viscosity, thixotropy, yield stress, viscoelasticity); measurement of zeta potential, electrical conductivity, stability over time, surface tension; particle size distribution (Sedigraph and DLS); specific surface; chemical analysis ICP-OES; colourimetry; simulation of the tilemaking process.

Ceramic pigments: combined characterization of crystal structure, optical properties, microstructural features and behaviour in the ceramic process in order to comprehend the relationships between structure, colour and technological performance. X-ray diffraction (XRPD and HT-XRD) with full profile Rietveld refinement (synchrotron light and neutron diffraction too); optical spectroscopy and colourimetry (DRS); scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and microanalysis (EDS); application in glazes and glassy coatings by simulating the manufacturing process of ceramic tiles and sanitarywares.


  • Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara, Italy
  • Department of Industrial and Materials Chemistry, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Department of Ceramics and Glass Engineering, CICECO, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey
  • Politehnica University of Timişoara, Romania
  • Universitat Jaume I, Castellon de la Plana, Spain
  • CSIC-UNSE, Sevilla, Spain


Crystallochemical solutions to problems related to geological and technological applications of Cr-, Fe-, Co-bearing spinels (SPIN GEO-TECH)