Posted on

Exploring 9 Different Kiln Formed Glass Art Techniques (Plus Examples!)

An overview of different kiln formed glass techniques such as fusing, casting, and slumping.
What is kiln formed glass? When exposed to heat, glass becomes soft and malleable. This allows glass artists to alter its shape or fuse multiple layers of glass together to create new textures or color combinations. At high enough temperatures, glass even liquefies, allowing artists to pour it into (or over) a mold or contour to create new forms. Once the artist has achieved the desired effect, the glass is allowed to slowly cool and stabilize (or anneal). And the result is kiln formed glass!

9 Types of Kiln Formed Glass Techniques

One of the most exciting parts of being a glass artist is combining various kiln formed glass techniques to create unique, one-of-a-kind glass art. Once you understand these different glass firing techniques, the only limit is your creativity (as well as the capabilities of your glass kiln and glass kiln controller)!
Glass artists like Jill Gary from Jill’s Design combine multiple kilnforming glass techniques to create one-of-a-kind kiln formed glass pieces using her TAP Controller.
Glass artists like Jill Gary from Jill’s Design (who’s a proponent of TAP Controllers!) combine multiple kilnforming glass techniques to create one-of-a-kind kiln formed glass pieces.
Below is an overview of nine different kilnforming techniques – to give you inspiration for your next kiln formed glass art project!

1. Fused Glass

Fusing glass is a kilnforming technique that involves heating two or more layers of glass, and then allowing them to cool, so that they join together to form a single piece of kiln formed glass. How fully the multiple layers of glass fuse together depends on your firing temperature. The hotter the kiln, the more uniform the fuse! Below are several different types of glass fuses:
  • Full Fuse: The layers of glass are heated up until they liquefy and completely merge together, cooling to form a single, smooth piece of kiln formed glass. Full fusing can be used to create unique and beautiful color combinations.
  • Contour Fuse: Contour fusing uses a lower firing temperature than a full fuse. In contour fusing, the different layers of glass are heated up enough to fully join together while remaining distinct separate layers. In contour fusing, both layers of glass get hot enough to lose some of their initial shape, becoming smooth at the edges.
  • Tack Fuse: Tack fusing involves even lower temperatures than contour fusing. In tack fusing, different pieces of glass are heated up just enough to join together at the point of contact, with both layers retaining their original shape. Tack fusing can be used to create new textures or shapes.
Barbara Elias used a tack fuse technique known as “freeze and fuse” to create a three dimensional effect for the flowers in this glass art piece.
Barbara Elias (another artist who uses TAP!) used a tack fuse technique known as “freeze and fuse” to create a three dimensional effect for the flowers in this glass art piece.
As you can imagine, glass fusing is a versatile kilnforming technique that lets you craft new textures, colors, and even shapes! However, it’s important to make sure that the different layers of glass are compatible. Fusible glass has a higher quality grade than standard glass. Additionally, the different layers of glass need to have compatible viscosities (which isn’t always indicated by matching COEs!).

2. Glass Draping

Glass draping is another popular kiln formed glass technique. Glass draping uses heat and gravity to change the shape of a sheet of glass. For glass draping, you “drape” the glass sheet on top of a convex mold and heat up the glass until it at least partially liquefies. Gravity ensures the molten glass drapes around the convex mold. Higher temperatures lead to more dramatic results. Glass draping can be used for everything from creating conventional plates and bowls to producing abstract, other-worldly shapes!

3. Slumped Glass

Slumping is just like draping, only inversed! For slumping glass, a glass sheet is placed inside a concave mold. The glass is then heated up until it partially liquefies, taking on the shape of the mold. Since slumping glass occurs within the mold, it leads to more predictable results, and is used to create plates, bowls, cups, or decorative molds. The higher the temperature, the more fully the glass takes on the shape of the mold.

4. Glass Casting

Glass casting is similar to slumping. However, with glass casting enough glass is placed within the mold to fill it entirely – so that when the glass melts and then cools, it anneals into a solid object. Glass casting is a kiln formed glass technique that’s used to create ornaments, paper weights, and standalone glass art.
Brittany Gabel, VP & Chief Creative Officer of SDS Industries, used glass casting to create the distinct texture on the outside of this glass cup.
SDS Industries’ very own Brittany Gabel (VP & Chief Creative Officer) used glass casting to create the distinct texture on the outside of this glass cup.

5. Glass Crackle

Glass crackle is a decorative kilnforming technique that most typically involves fusing together three layers of glass. The middle layer of glass is then shattered in a controlled method – or you can create the “crackled” middle layer using glass frit and fiber paper to create a crackled effect once it’s heated and allowed to melt. During glass crackling, the three layers of glass are fused together, and the outer layers are left intact so that the final piece retains a smooth (and safe!) outer layer. There are also several alternative methods to create a crackle effect, some of which use distilled water and glass powder, which you can read about here!
Glass frit powder is used in kiln formed glass art projects for filling spaces or creating textures.
Glass frit is ground fusible glass that is used for filling spaces or creating crackled, mosaic, grainy textures, adding fine details to glass art, or for casting. Picture courtesy of Oceanside Glass & Tile, which can be purchased through our partners at Delphi Glass.

6. Pot Melting

Pot melting is another decorative kilnforming technique that involves allowing glass to melt through a hole in the bottom of a pot – onto a primed kiln shelf or into a contained mold – to create swirls and ripples and other textured effects!

Watch our partners at Delphi Glass walk you through how to incorporate pot melting into your kiln formed glass projects.

7. Fire Polishing

Fire polishing is a “finishing” technique. Typically used after cold working glass, the glass is then heated up until it returns to its original shiny and smooth state.

8. Bubble Squeezing

A bubble squeeze is a “preparatory” technique before kilnforming glass. Bubble squeezing is used to create more even fuses by slowly heating up glass to allow trapped air to escape. Bubble squeezing reduces the number of bubbles, as well as their size, resulting in more uniform (and structurally sound!) kiln formed glass.

9. Annealing

Finally, we get to annealing, which is the final step in kilnforming glass. Annealing glass is less of a technique, and more of a necessity! Annealing is a controlled cooling process. If you allow kiln formed glass to cool too quickly, it leads to all kinds of issues – like thermal shock, breakage, shattering, stress fractures, and structural weakness. An advanced glass kiln controller like TAP or TAP II by SDS Industries automatically (and precisely) cools glass at a controlled, highly specified ramp rate – keeping both glass and artists from being exposed to unnecessary stress!

Glass Supplies for Kilnforming Glass

Excited to get started? Before getting started on your next kiln formed glass project, you’ll need the right supplies! Below are brief explanations of the different glass supplies you’ll need for kilnforming!

Glass Kilns and Glass Kiln Controllers

Of course, to kiln form glass, you’ll need a kiln – and a kiln controller – that’s capable of glass firing. Glass kilns are specifically designed to heat glass to very precise temperatures so it can be fused, slumped, or cast.

(Some glassblowing artists also use a dedicated annealing kiln to slowly cool down blown glass that’s been heated outside of kiln to improve its durability and prevent the glass from experiencing thermal shock).

However, in addition to your kiln, it’s important to choose the type of kiln controller. TAP Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries provide glass artists with an advanced programmable digital controller that’s precise, simple, and easy-to-use. TAP Controllers are capable of executing complex schedules with multiple ramp rates to ensure your kiln formed glass comes out just the way you wanted! With TAP Controllers, you can store an unlimited number of firing schedules – so you always have all your glass firing schedules on-hand for when you need them. And with TAP Kiln Control Mobile, you have the convenient option to control and monitor your kiln formed glass firing right from your phone or tablet!

Types of Accessory Glass

Once you have the right kiln and the right kiln controller, you’ll also need glass. Glass used for kilnforming – also known as accessory glass – comes in several forms:

  • Glass Frit: Glass frit is ground fusible glass that is used for filling spaces or creating crackled, mosaic, grainy textures, or for adding fine details to glass art.
  • Sheet Glass: Available in a variety of sizes, sheet glass is used for kilnforming, fusing, and mosaics.
  • Glass Rods, Noodles, Stringers, and Ribbons: Glass rods, noodles, and stringers are long, narrow strips of glass that are fused to other pieces of glass to create patterns, textures, or other artistic effect. Glass ribbons are a flatter, wider alternative that are perfect for fusing.
  • Glass Confetti: Glass confetti consists of small, irregular, ultra-thin flakes of glass and are used for adding touches of color to your kiln formed glass.
  • Glass Billets: Billets are precisely cut sheets of fusible glass that are the perfect size for casting.
Glass rods, noodles, and stringers are used for kiln formed glass projects.
Photograph of glass rods, noodles, and stringers courtesy of Oceanside Glass & Tile.

Accessory glass comes in all sorts of colors and levels of translucence – so that you can create the perfect effects for your kiln formed glass projects. Just make sure that when you’re shopping for accessory glass, that the glasses you choose are compatible. A good place to start is by making sure that the glasses have matching COEs – or coefficients of expansion – which means they’ll expand or contract at the same rates when heated up or cooled down. However, there are other factors that affect compatibility, so it’s always recommended that you do plenty of research before purchasing glass and start by doing a test fuse for glasses you’re not familiar with!

Explore Glass Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide artists with the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use glass kilns controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Upgrade Your Glass Kiln with TAP Digital Kiln Controllers

Posted on

Complete Guide to Kiln Firing Temperatures

A definitive guide for understanding kiln firing temperatures.

Whether you work in pottery, glass, or heat treat, kiln firing temperatures play a critical role in achieving your desired result. Reaching the correct kiln firing temperature during each stage of your firing schedule is the difference between successfully completing a project…or creating a total mess!

Why Are Kiln Firing Temperatures Important?

Changes in temperature affect the physical properties of a medium. Heat alters a medium’s molecular structure, potentially affecting its hardness, brittleness, malleability, color, water resistance, and more.

Every kiln firing and heat treat process involves exposing material to heat to transform its physical qualities to give it a desired set of characteristics. Whether that’s transforming green clay to bisque, tempering a blade, or casting glass to fit a mold!

Different materials undergo specific physical (and chemical) changes at specific temperatures – so kiln firing temperatures are super important and vary according to medium and technique.

Kiln Firing Schedules

However, kiln firing temperature isn’t the only factor affecting outcome. The relationship between changes in temperature over time is super important. That’s why kiln firing schedules define the following:

  • Step #: The order in which the different kiln firing temperatures occur.
  • Ramp Rate: The speed at which changes in temperature occur (measured in degrees per hour).
  • Setpoint: The desired temperature the kiln reaches during each step (measured in degrees).
  • Hold Time: The length of time (defined in days, hours, or minutes) the kiln stays at a specific kiln firing temperature before advancing to the next step.

Kiln firing schedules vary greatly in kiln firing temperatures, as well as complexity. For instance, normalizing steel for a handmade knife might only involve a single setpoint over a specific hold time. Whereas, bisque firing pottery might involve five different setpoints, each with a specific ramp rate.

In addition to increases in firing temperature, decreases in temperature are equally important. Often, heating up an object and then cooling it down too rapidly jeopardizes its structural integrity, leading to cracks and brittleness.

Kiln firing 1095 steel to 1600° F relieves internal stress and ensures uniformity, making it stronger and harder.
Normalizing 1095 steel to 1600° F relieves internal stress and ensures uniformity, making it stronger and harder.

 

Categorizing Kiln Firing Temperatures

There are multiple ways to categorize kiln firing temperatures – whether by temperature range, material, process, or cone temperature. Artists in different media generally have different ways of categorizing kiln temperature:

  • Heat Treat: By and large, heat treat artists categorize kiln firing temperatures according to process (hardening, normalizing, tempering, etc.) and material. There are very few “one-size-fits all,” standardized ranges or schedules – specificity is key.
  • Kilnformed Glass: Glass artists categorize temperature according to technique (slumping, casting, fusing, annealing, etc.) and glass “coefficient of expansion” (how fast glass expands based on changes in temperature). Glass thickness is equally important, but that has more to do with changes in hold times or ramp rates as opposed to temperature.
  • Pottery and Ceramics: For pottery and ceramics, kiln firing temperatures are still largely categorized based on cone firing temperatures and ranges – which we’ll be covering more in-depth below! Each ceramic material is rated for a cone that corresponds with a specific temperature, allowing for a more standardized scale.
For a full fuse kiln firing for 90 COE glass, the kiln must reach a setpoint of 1490° F.
For a full fuse kiln firing for 90 COE glass, the kiln must reach a setpoint of 1490° F.
 

 

 Understanding Cone Firing Temperatures

 

Unlike heat treat and glasswork, which require a greater level of specificity, potters deal in pre-defined temperature ranges – which correspond with pyrometric cones. Before the advent of modern programmable digital kiln controllers, kiln temperature control relied on manual kilns and the use of pyrometric cones and kiln sitters to measure when the proper kiln firing temperatures were reached.

Pyrometric cones melt at specified temperatures, providing a range for measuring (and categorizing) kiln firing temperatures. So, for instance Cone 06 for “low fire” clay softens and bends at 1832° F (1000° C), while Cone 14 for “high fire” porcelain softens and bends at 2552° F (1400° C).

Today, digital kiln controllers and digital pyrometers have largely made pyrometric cones obsolete. But cone numbers are still widely referenced for categorizing kiln firing temperatures. While cone firing charts are predominantly used in pottery, they are still sometimes referenced for heat treat and glasswork.

Click the button below for an in-depth cone temperature chart – which notes firing temperatures for each cone and describes the changes clay undergoes at each temperature:

 

Kiln Firing Temperature Ranges in Pottery

As you can see on the cone temperature chart, there are also temperature ranges that are used to categorize kiln firing temperatures for clay. The ranges below also correspond with three different categories of clay: earthenware, stoneware, and ceramics:

  • Low-Fire Clays: Cone 06 – Cone 1: Low-fire clays, also referred to as earthenware, are fired at temperatures ranging between 1828° F to 2079°F.
  • Mid-Fire Clays: Cone 4 – Cone 6: Mid-fire clays, which can be earthenware or stoneware, are fired at temperatures between 2142° F to 2232° F.
  • High-Fire Clays: Cone 10 – Cone 14: High fire clays, which can be used for stoneware or porcelain, are fired at temperatures between 2345° F to 2552° F.
Cone 04 clay, which is a common “low-fire” clay, fires at a kiln firing temperature of 1945° F.
Cone 04 clay, which is a common “low-fire” clay, fires at a kiln firing temperature of 1945° F.

For an in-depth explanation of the different types of clay, check out “Kiln Firing Chart for Pottery and Ceramics [Infographic].”

How to Ensure Your Kiln Reaches the Correct Kiln Firing Temperatures

Now that you understand the importance of kiln firing temperatures, how do you ensure your kiln reaches the correct temperature? That’s where kiln controllers come into play! There are three general phases when it comes to using a kiln controller to manage firing temperatures:

  • Input: First, the user has to enter what temperatures the kiln needs to reach, usually through creating a firing schedule or selecting a pre-set schedule.
  • Execution: Next, the temperature controller automatically executes the schedule, ensuring the kiln reaches the correct kiln firing temperatures over the correct timeframe.
  • Measurement: Throughout the execution phase, it’s important that either the controller itself (or an independent pyrometer) is able to precisely record kiln firing temperature based on input from the thermocouple.

Different kiln control methods handle these three phases more or less effectively. For instance, some temperature controllers are able to precisely execute schedules but are so difficult to use from a User Experience (UX) standpoint that it’s hard to know if you input the correct kiln firing temperatures to begin with! Others allow for too much variability in response times or temperature overshoot, meaning the kiln might not reach the precise temperatures you need during execution. And most kiln controllers require the user to be physically present at the kiln at all times to monitor its temperature.

The TAP Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries were designed to solve all these problems – with a touchscreen and intuitive menus to help artists input the correct kiln firing temperatures, as well as PID control algorithms to ensure maximum precision in the execution phase. Furthermore, all of the products in the TAP Ecosystem include integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app – allowing for artists to remotely control and monitor their projects from their smartphone or tablet!

Explore Temperature Controllers by SDS Industries

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use temperature controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile app, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop the most advanced programmable digital kiln controllers for sale.
Posted on

How to Use a Kiln Temperature Monitor

Using a kiln temperature monitor lets you monitor kiln firing temperatures and adds kiln safety.

A kiln temperature monitor is a device that monitors kiln firing temperatures. Typically, when people refer to a kiln temperature monitor, they’re referring to a device specifically dedicated to temperature measurement, such as a pyrometer or a limit controller.

In the next section we’ll explain the difference between limit controllers, pyrometers, and process controllers – because all three devices technically monitor kiln temperature. Then, we’ll explain the benefits and use cases of a dedicated kiln temperature monitor.

Understanding the Difference Between Pyrometers, Limit Controllers, and Process Controllers

Wait, but doesn’t my programmable digital kiln controller already monitor my kiln firing temperatures? Yes, digital kiln controllers (such as TAP Controllers!) receive temperature inputs from the thermocouples and display your kiln’s temperature on the controller interface (or your smartphone with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App!).

However, digital kiln controllers are process controllers, meaning their primary role isn’t to monitor temperature but rather to adjust kiln firing temperatures according to the programmed firing schedule.

Pyrometers, on the other hand, are devices whose sole function is to monitor kiln temperature. And limit controllers, or high limit controllers or safety limiters, are pyrometers with additional control functions that allow users to pre-program their electric kiln to automatically shut off if the kiln exceeds a specified temperature.

What’s The Point of a Dedicated Kiln Temperature Monitor?

Okay, but if your primary process controller already lets you monitor kiln temperature, then what’s the point of a dedicated kiln temperature monitor? The answer: kiln safety.

More advanced kiln controllers, such as TAP, provide max temperature safety shutoff in case of relay failure. But even then you’re still relying on a single controller, a single relay, and a single thermocouple to ensure the safety of your kiln, yourself, and your property.

When it comes to safety, especially at high kiln firing temperatures, redundancy is key. A dedicated kiln temperature monitor adds an additional level of safety by acting as a safety redundancy device. When installed and wired to a redundant safety relay, TAP Monitor will automatically shut off your kiln if it exceeds a specified temperature – even if your primary relay fails.

TAP Monitor integrates with your kiln to provide remote kiln temperature monitoring to your smartphone.
TAP Monitor integrates with your kiln to provide remote kiln temperature monitoring to your smartphone – when installed with a redundant relay, TAP Monitor also provides additional kiln safety.

Introducing TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer Limit Controller

While previous kiln temperature monitors only added kiln safety shutoff or a temperature readout, TAP Monitor by SDS Industries adds a whole lot more than that!

TAP Monitor is an advanced, user-friendly kiln temperature monitor that gives kiln operators the ability to precisely monitor kiln firing temperatures – remotely! – regardless of their existing kiln control method.

Available as a plug-and-play standalone pyrometer limit controller or as a set of configurable components for DIY installs and oven builds, TAP Monitor gives ceramicists, potters, glass artists, and bladesmiths the ability to:

  • Precisely monitor the temperature of their kiln, oven, or forge via the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App.
  • View digital pyrometric readouts from any manually controlled kiln, including remote readouts via TAP Kiln Control Mobile when TAP Monitor is connected to a local network.
  • Easily add precise, real-time digital temperature readings to their manual kiln or oven.
  • Pair TAP Monitor with their existing automatically controlled kiln for remote monitoring.
  • For added safety, use TAP Monitor as a standalone or safety relay controller.

Explore Kiln Control Solutions by SDS Industries

In addition to the TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer, the TAP Ecosystem includes a variety of programmable kiln controllers that give artists complete control of their kilns – without complicated controls or clumsy user interfaces. The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven. We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, pyrometers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer for kilns

Posted on

How to Easily Track Your Electric Kiln Firing Cost

Tracking electric kiln firing costs on a kiln firing cost calculator

Did you know that you can easily program your TAP Controller to track your electric kiln firing cost? And with the latest update to the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, we’ve made the kiln firing cost calculator function free for all users!

Why is this important?

There are several benefits to being able to accurately track your electric kiln firing cost. If you sell (or plan on selling) your work, knowing kiln costs for each firing schedule, along with materials and labor costs, allows you to accurately price your work. Additionally, knowing your electric kiln firing cost allows you to accurately track cost growth as utility rates rise.

But even if you don’t sell your work, the kiln firing cost calculator function can help you gain insight into whether your kiln is operating as effectively as it did when it was new, helping you stay ahead of possible kiln maintenance needs. Plus, with how easy it is to program cost settings on your TAP Controller, it’s just cool information to know!

How to Use the Kiln Firing Cost Calculator on Your TAP Controller

Setting up your TAP Controller to track your electric kiln firing cost is super easy. For the original TAP Controller, you can input cost settings right from your controller screen or via the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App. For the TAP II Controller, as well as the other kiln controllers in the TAP Ecosystem, you will set up your kiln firing costs via the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, so you can skip ahead to the next section for instructions!

Steps for Programming Kiln Cost Settings on the Controller UI

TAP Kiln Controllers have a kiln firing cost calculator for tracking your electric kiln firing cost.

  1. From the Home Screen, go to Menu > Settings > Cost.
  2. Enter your kiln’s power rating in watts in the field for ‘Kiln Power.’ If you’re unsure of your kiln’s power rating, you can usually find it on the kiln’s data plate or in your kiln’s user manual. If your kiln’s power rating is in kilowatts, just multiply that number by 1000 to convert the power rating into watts. So, for instance, if your kiln was rated for 2.16 kW, you’d multiply that by 1000, and enter 2160 in the field for ‘Kiln Power.’
  3. Enter your utility provider’s cost per kilowatt hour in the ‘Cost per kWh’ field. You can find this information on your latest electric bill or on the website for your electric utility provider. In the example below, we’ve highlighted the Cost Per kWh (so, for this example, you would enter $0.041 under ‘Cost per kWh): Once you’ve input this information, your TAP Controller will automatically calculate your electric kiln firing cost – so you can ditch the pencil, notebooks, timers, and calculators!

Example of Electric Service Details

How to Setup Electric Kiln Firing Cost Tracking on the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App

You can also program cost settings for the TAP or TAP II Controller (as well as our upcoming kiln temp controller options) on the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App – and track your electric kiln firing costs on the go!

  1. In the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, select your kiln from the Summary Screen.
  2. Press Settings on the bottom center of your screen.
  3. Scroll down to Cost. Here you will find the field to input ‘Cost per kWh’ and ‘Kiln Power’ (refer to Steps 2 & 3 from the previous section):

Tracking electric kiln firing costs on a kiln firing cost calculator

You can download the latest version of the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, which makes this feature free for all TAP users on the App Store (for iOS) or the Google Play Store (for Android).

As you know, electric kiln firing costs aren’t the only cost of owning (and maintaining a kiln). For additional information about the cost of kiln ownership – from purchase and installation to maintenance costs – check out our definitive guide on kiln costs!

Explore Programmable Digital Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries

When it comes to providing features that make life easier for artists, electric kiln firing cost tracking is just scratching the surface!

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Download the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App for remote kiln control from your smartphone or tablet.

Posted on

Kiln Maintenance & How to Care for Your TAP Controller

Kiln maintenance helps prolong the lifespan of your kiln and its components.

Owning a kiln is a little bit like owning a car. With mindful operation and a little bit of routine maintenance, your kiln should last for decades! Proper kiln maintenance ensures your kiln remains safe and operational during that time.

The good news is that kiln maintenance is much simpler (and less expensive!) than maintaining your car. While a car has a gazillion different parts that will eventually need to be replaced, kilns have far fewer points of potential failure. And while it can be a good idea to occasionally enlist the help of an electrician or a kiln engineer (especially during installation), most kiln operators will be able to perform regular kiln maintenance by themselves!

Better yet, today’s programmable digital kiln controllers like TAP Controllers by SDS Industries include advanced diagnostics features and preventative maintenance alerts, so that you know when it’s time to replace kiln elements, thermocouples, and relays. That way, you’re able to maintain optimal performance without having to worry about your kiln conking out on you mid-project!

Routine Maintenance: Component Replacement

Just like with cars, there are certain kiln components that will wear down over time and will need to be replaced on a regular basis, so we’ll start with those first. These components include:

  • Thermocouples: Thermocouples – the probe that measures the temperature of your kiln – are regularly subjected to high temperatures. Over time, thermocouples become corroded and start crumbling at the tip and will no longer be able to accurately record temperature. You’ll need to replace your thermocouples on a regular basis – typically every 30 to 50 firings for Type K thermocouples.
  • Kiln Elements: Elements are the metal coils that line the inside of your kiln and heat up when they receive electric current. Over time, kiln elements become corroded and their resistance increases – meaning that they begin to become less efficient and require more electric current to heat your kiln. The lifespan of kiln elements can range anywhere from 1 to 5 years. Their lifespan depends largely on the type of kiln you’re using, the temperatures you regularly fire to, as well as firing frequency and duration.
  • Mechanical Kiln Relays: Kiln relays regulate the power to the elements of your kiln, allowing them to heat up or cool down. Mechanical relays, which come standard on most kilns, are subject to failure after around 200,000 cycles and will need to be replaced every 12-24 months. Alternatively, investing in mercury or solid-state relays can reduce kiln maintenance costs, since those relays last much, much longer. Mercury relays last around 5 million cycles and will only need to be replaced every 15-20 years. Finally, solid-state relays don’t have any moving parts and can last over 1000 years (TAP Kiln Controllers are compatible with all three relay types!).

Replacing these components is an inevitable part of kiln maintenance. TAP Kiln Controllers calculate health and life expectancy for each of these components based on user defined thresholds, letting you know when it’s time to replace each component to maintain optimal kiln performance.

Other kiln components that may require replacement include kiln bricks, kiln lids, electrical wires, and kiln controllers. However, there are steps you can take to monitor and prolong the lifespan for all of these components:

  • For kiln bricks, be careful when moving your kiln or when placing or removing objects from your kiln. Regularly visually inspect the interior of your kiln. Kiln bricks will need to be replaced when they’re no longer able to properly support kiln elements or when significant chunks of kiln bricks are missing affecting the thermal efficiency of your kiln.
  • For kiln lids, be mindful when opening and closing your kiln to prevent denting or damaging the lid. Do not lean on your kiln or use it as a shelf for storing objects.
  • Regularly inspect electrical wires for discoloration, brittleness, or corrosion. Immediately replace these components if necessary.
  • For kiln controllers, make sure they are properly installed and regularly keep the screen clean and free of debris. We’ll be going more in-depth on how to care for your TAP Controller further below!

TAP Kiln Controllers give users a detailed error log that helps them identify component failure. For a breakdown of error messages and troubleshooting steps, check out p. 12 of the TAP II Controller User Manual.

Maintenance tip for at home kilns

Kiln Maintenance: Installation

Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is definitely true when it comes to kiln maintenance. Proper installation will prevent a ton of potential problems later down the road. Below are a few principles for kiln installation that will prolong the life of your kiln:

  • Select a space with adequate clearance and proper surfaces. Heat is a common cause of kiln component failure (or worse!). When installing your kiln, make sure your kiln has at at least 18” of clearance from non-combustible surfaces and 36” from combustible surfaces. Make sure the kiln is installed on a level surface that’s non-combustible and able to withstand high temperatures.
  • Install your kiln in a dry area. Water and electricity don’t mix! Installing your kiln in a dry area prevents shorts and surges and protects your kiln from corrosion, which will significantly reduce the life of your at home kiln components.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for installation. When you purchase your kiln, you should receive manufacturer guidelines for installation and kiln safety. Make sure to adhere to these closely when installing your kiln. If you purchase a used kiln, contact the manufacturer for installation guidelines.
  • Get any electric work done by a qualified electrician. At home kilns, especially larger ones, utilize a lot of electricity, so it’s important to make sure that you use a dedicated circuit with a properly rated power outlet and never use an extension cord. Enlisting the help of a certified electrician during installation helps reduce the likelihood of kiln maintenance problems down the road.
  • Make sure thermocouples are properly installed. Thermocouples help your automatic kiln controller precisely regulate the temperature of your kiln. However, thermocouples will only give you accurate temperature readings if they’re properly installed! Thermocouples should be inserted an inch or two into the interior or your kiln and should have at least 1″ clearance from any shelves, components, or any materials you place inside your kiln.
  • For DIY kiln builds, make sure relays are properly installed. Kiln relays ensure the safety of your kiln by cutting power to the elements if the kiln gets too hot. For DIY kiln or oven builds, it’s important to choose the right type of relay; for instance, solid-state and mercury relays will have far more longevity and reliability than mechanical relays. But it’s even more important to make sure that relays are properly rated and installed and that you utilize a safety relay to add redundancy in case one relay fails.
  • Don’t store your kiln outside. Since indoor kiln installation for ceramics and glazing requires proper ventilation, it might be tempting to keep your kiln outside. We strongly, strongly advise against that. Exposure to the elements will reduce the lifespan of your kiln and all of its components.

Kiln Maintenance Tips Before, During, and After Firing

While proper installation and regularly replacing necessary components can prevent a host of kiln maintenance issues down the line, there are also steps you can take before, during, and after firing to prolong the life of your kiln. Below is a list of tips for kiln care and maintenance!

  • Regularly clean your kiln. Debris, dust, and glazes in the interior of your kiln can reduce element efficiency, ultimately reducing their lifespan. Carefully dusting around the element grooves and regularly vacuuming your kiln’s interior helps prevent this. Just be careful not to damage the elements or the surrounding brick! If melted glaze gets on your kiln brick, make sure to gently scrape it off to avoid it absorbing into the kiln brick. You can also use kiln wash to minimize potential damage from dripping glaze (just make sure not to get it on the kiln’s elements!). Additionally, you should only clean your kiln when it is powered off to avoid causing electrostatic discharge if you accidentally hit the thermocouple and other mishaps.
  • Keep your lid closed between firings. Leaving your kiln’s lid open leaves it susceptible to dust, debris, or wildlife getting in (yikes!). Make sure to keep your lid closed when you’re not using the kiln.
  • Do not lean on your kiln. Leaning on your kiln can cause dents or stress fractures, reducing its efficiency.
  • Don’t use your kiln for storage. Storing items in your kiln can easily damage the bricks or elements of your kiln.
  • Be careful opening and closing your kiln. Be gentle opening and closing the lid of your kiln to avoid damaging the lid or the top-edge of your kiln.
  • Don’t open the kiln for prolonged periods when it’s still hot. While it may be necessary to occasionally open your kiln to monitor the status of your work during firing, prolonged exposure to abrupt changes in temperature can cause cracks and fractures in your kiln brick.
  • Regularly inspect kiln elements. Regularly visually inspect your kiln’s elements for debris buildup or corrosion. Occasionally, kiln elements may become dislodged from the grooves in the brickwork and may need to be repositioned. Additionally, you can use a multimeter to test their resistance. Once they exceed 10% of the recommended resistance in your kiln’s user manual, it’s time for them to be replaced.
  • Invest in a safety relay controller. The biggest threat to your kiln’s lifespan (as well as your safety and the welfare of your household and personal property) is too much temperature. Occasionally relays fail. If they fail in the open position, your kiln will keep heating up indefinitely. This is no bueno! Investing in a redundant safety relay controller like the TAP Monitor ensures that your kiln safely shuts off in case of relay failure.

Caring for Your TAP Controller

TAP Kiln Controllers are carefully manufactured from high-quality components and backed by an industry leading 3-year warranty. However, like any advanced electronic device, they are subject to failure, wear and tear, and their lifespan can be prolonged by proper care. Below are tips for caring for your TAP Controller:

  • Make sure your controller is properly installed. You can find tips for kiln controller installation for DIY builds here, but if you have any questions we encourage you to contact us.
  • Regularly clean your screen to keep it free from any dust or debris.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry or watch while using your TAP Controller, as these can result in scratches on the screen.
  • Again, we cannot stress this enough, do not store your kiln or your controller outdoors.
  • Regularly review diagnostic errors so that you can spot and troubleshoot potential errors with controller output.
  • Make sure your controller is updated to the latest software. If you’re connected to WiFi, updates will be downloaded automatically and you will be notified via pop-up. Simply follow the on-screen instructions. But you can find instructions for manually updating kiln controller software for your TAP Controller here.

Additionally, SDS Industries is always working to improve our kiln controllers and provide users with new features that improve their kiln firing experience. We’re currently working on an automated device monitoring software for TAP Controllers that monitors device performance and health. By monitoring various controller metrics, the software will be able to detect potential controller degradation so that we can be proactive and inform you if your controller needs repairs.

Maintenance tips and cleaning instructions for TAP Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries.

Tips for Cleaning Your TAP Controller

TAP Kiln Controllers use a resistive touchscreen for user inputs. As mentioned earlier, to maintain optimal performance, you should regularly clean your TAP Controller to ensure it’s free of dust, debris, smudges, and fingerprints. Below are a couple dos and don’ts for cleaning your TAP Controller:

  • Before cleaning the display, use a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth to gently wipe away any dust from the touchscreen.
  • Use distilled water to dampen the microfiber cloth to gently clean the touchscreen display.
  • Do not use the following cleaning agents: tap water, ammonia, acetone, ethyl alcohol, methyl chloride, or ethyl acid, as these can cause damage to your screen.

Explore Programmable Digital Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop kiln controllers for electric kilns by SDS Industries.

Posted on

Kiln Controls: Exploring Different Kiln Control Methods

A comparison of different kiln control methods.

Kiln controls are the interface you use to program the temperature of your kiln. There are a wide variety of kiln control methods, so how do you know which one is right for you? Well, that depends on the type of kiln you’re using and the types of kiln firing schedules you frequently use.

For instance, for heat treating knives you may only need a single setpoint controller, whereas for executing firing schedules for glass or ceramics you may need a programmable digital kiln controller that’s capable of automatically executing multiple segments with different setpoints and ramp rates.

Today, we’ll be exploring the different options for kiln controls, as well as different categories of kiln controllers.

What Is a Kiln Controller?

Before getting into different kiln control methods, it’s important to understand the role of a kiln controller. A kiln controller is a device that manages the temperature and tempo of a kiln according to user inputs. Kiln controllers work by cycling the relays to a kiln’s heating elements to adjust the temperature of the kiln. Thermocouples connect the controller to the interior of the kiln to allow the controller to monitor kiln temperature and adjust power to the kiln accordingly.

The TAP Kiln Controller provides users with simple, precise kiln controls on a touchscreen UI.
The TAP Kiln Controller provides users with simple, precise kiln controls via an easy-to-use touchscreen.
 

Types of Kiln Controls

When it comes to kiln controls, there are different categories of kiln controllers. However, please note that these categories are broad. A single kiln controller may fall into more than one category. For instance, the TAP Kiln Controller by SDS Industries is an automatic controller, a process controller, a multi-setpoint controller, a multi-zone controller, and provides users with remote kiln control through the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App.

Manual Controllers vs Automatic Controllers

When it comes to kiln control methods for controlling temperature to an electric kiln, the biggest distinction is between manual controllers and automatic controllers. With manual controllers, kiln operators must adjust kiln controls by hand, in real-time throughout the firing process using analog control knobs, dials, and switches. While kiln sitters can be used to ensure the kiln eventually shuts off once it reaches a pre-defined temperature, manual kiln controllers require constant user oversight and input in order to make any adjustments to a firing schedule.

Automatic kiln controllers (also known as digital kiln controllers), on the other hand, are capable of executing kiln controls for an entire firing schedule without user input. With automatic controllers, users preprogram their entire firing schedule into the controller in advance. Once they press ‘Start,’ the controller automatically adjusts kiln temperature, ramp rates, and hold times until the firing schedule reaches completion. Automatic kiln controllers significantly streamline the firing process. Their added convenience and precision make them the preferred kiln control method for many artists and industrial kiln operators.

Limit Controllers vs Process Controllers

Another difference to consider when it comes to kiln controls is the difference between limit controllers and process controllers. Limit controllers, also known as high limit controllers or safety limiters, allow users to pre-program their electric kiln to automatically shut off if the kiln exceeds a specified temperature. While limit controllers usually aren’t suited to be the primary control method on an electric kiln, they are an important part of kiln safety and can protect you, your equipment, and your property in the case of relay or system failure.

Process controllers, on the other hand, monitor temperature throughout the firing process, automatically adjusting output to ensure that the kiln stays within a preset range. Process controllers are used to execute firing schedules with added precision.

Multi-Setpoint Controllers vs Single Setpoint Controllers

Another distinction between kiln control methods is whether a controller is multi-setpoint or single setpoint. A multi-setpoint controller is capable of automatically reaching multiple setpoints (pre-defined temperatures) in succession according to a firing schedule. By comparison, single setpoint controllers are only capable of bringing the kiln to a single setpoint over the course of a firing program.

Multi-Zone Controllers vs Single Zone Controllers

Kiln controls also vary according to whether they are able to deliver uniform temperature throughout different areas – or zones – of the kiln. A multi-zone controller is capable of independently heating multiple zones of the kiln to maintain uniformity throughout the firing chamber. Multi-zone kilns and ovens are usually very large and can see significant temperature differences from one section to another. Single zone controllers can heat the entire kiln to a single temperature.

The TAP II Controller is a cutting-edge single zone kiln controller.
The TAP II Controller is a cutting-edge single zone kiln controller.
 

Touchscreen Controllers vs Key-Based Controllers

Another distinction between kiln control methods is how users interface with the controller. Up until fairly recently, automatic kiln controllers could only be programmed using keys (or analog buttons). Due to a limited number of keys, this kiln control method requires users to press each button multiple times and navigate complex, multi-layered menus.

In 2015, SDS Industries revolutionized the kiln control industry by introducing touchscreen kiln controls. Touchscreen kiln controllers brought users added convenience, precision, and ease-of-use, allowing them to easily adjust settings and completely program their kiln with minimal finger presses. Additionally, the touchscreen allowed for a larger display, making controller navigation significantly easier, with alpha-numeric, full text displays of kiln firing schedule names to make it easy for operators to access, edit, and execute the right firing schedule.

Remote Kiln Controls

Another major advancement in kiln control came in 2016 with the release of the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App. Whereas earlier kiln control methods required users to be physically present by their controller in order to input kiln controls, the TAP Kiln Controllers allowed users to monitor and make adjustments to their kiln remotely from their smartphone or tablet. The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App allows users to:

  • Monitor their kiln remotely with real-time updates.
  • Remote start, skip firing steps, or abort firings.
  • Receive real-time firing updates via push notifications.
  • Create and modify schedules.
  • Update kiln settings.
  • And more!
The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App provides remote kiln controls from your smartphone or tablet.
The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App provides remote kiln controls from your smartphone or tablet.
 

Explore Kiln Controls by SDS Industries

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries provide users the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use kiln controls on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop TAP Kiln Control Methods by SDS Industries.

Posted on

How to Use a Programmable Digital Kiln Controller

The TAP Controller, pictured alongside the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, is the most advanced programmable digital kiln controller on the market.

Similar to other industries, the mid-1980s brought major advancements to kiln control technology. Manual kilns and kiln sitters gave way to programmable digital kiln controllers. Kiln operators no longer had to manually adjust their kilns for each segment of their kiln firing schedule. Instead, they could use programmable kiln controllers to input their entire firing program in advance, and the controller would carry out the program automatically!

Also known as electronic or automatic kiln controllers, programmable digital kiln controllers are computerized controllers that automatically cycle the relays to a kiln’s heating elements on and off in accordance to predefined ramp rates, setpoints and hold times.

Compared to manual controllers, programmable kiln controllers significantly streamline the firing process, reducing the possibility of user error and ensuring consistently repeatable firing conditions.

The TAP Kiln Controller by SDS Industries is a touchscreen programmable digital kiln controller.

Programmable Digital Kiln Controller Input Methods

When it comes to programmable digital kiln controllers, there are two primary input methods: keys and touchscreen.

Key-Based Controls

Early programmable kiln controllers all used keys, or analog buttons, in order to program the controller. Many kiln controllers today still use this input method. Common configurations are 3-key controllers and 12-key controllers, but some kiln controllers use as many as 24 keys!

However, regardless of how many keys a controller has, this control method presents several inconveniences:

  • Keys must be pressed multiple times to increase setpoints, cycle through preprogrammed schedules, or control other inputs.
  • Key-based controllers often have small, hard-to-read screens that make it impossible to see all the relevant information about a firing schedule.
  • These controllers have multi-layered menus that can be extremely difficult to navigate.

Good luck using these controllers without constantly having to consult the user manual and press a LOT of buttons!

Touchscreen Controls

In 2015, SDS Industries revolutionized the kiln control industry, by replacing keys and alarm-clock-like screens with intuitive, responsive touchscreen controls and an easy-to-read graphical UI. The TAP Controller, and later the TAP II Controller, allows kiln operators to quickly and easily program their kiln with just a few presses of their finger on the controller or their via their smartphone with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App.

The TAP II Kiln Controller allows operators to easily preprogram their kiln.

When it comes to programmable digital controllers, touchscreen controls present several major advantages:

  • Intuitive, user-friendly menus that are designed for complete navigation with minimal finger presses.
  • Alpha-numeric, full text displays of kiln firing schedules to make it easy for operators to access, edit, and execute the right firing schedule.
  • The ability to create a theoretically unlimited number of kiln firing schedules, each containing a theoretically unlimited number of steps, so users don’t have to relegate schedules to their firing notebook when they run out of storage.
  • Integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App to allow users to create, modify, and execute kiln firing schedules from their mobile device when their kiln controller is connected to Wi-Fi.

Additionally, TAP Digital Kiln Controllers include PID-driven precision, advanced diagnostics, complete firing logs, and preventative maintenance alerts, and more, to ensure that the controller and kiln maintain optimum performance.

The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App acts as a remote programmable kiln controller.

Types of Kilns that Use Programmable Kiln Controllers

Today, programmable digital kilns controllers are the standard for industrial kilns and have become increasingly common for hobby and studio kilns. Many programmable kiln controllers include preset firing schedules for glasswork, ceramics, glazes, and heat treat, greatly reducing the learning curve for new artists while still offering veteran artists the ability to completely customize their firing schedules.

Retrofitting Your Kiln with a Programmable Controller

Whether your kiln came equipped with a manual controller or you’re using an outdated programmable controller, retrofitting your kiln with a modern programmable digital kiln controller is easy through the use of standalone controllers or conversion kits. Standalone controllers are a plug-and-play solution for upgrading your manual kiln to automatic controls, while conversion kits enable you to upgrade an existing automatic controller with no (or minimal) modification to your kiln.

Check out our step-by-step guide for installing programmable digital kiln controller standalones and conversion kits!

How to Use a Programmable Digital Kiln Controller

The specifics of how to program your kiln using a digital kiln controller largely depends on the type of controller you’re using. However, generally, upon powering on your kiln you will use the input method on the controller to either select a saved or preset schedule or create your own (you can do this before or after loading your wares). If you’re new to kiln firing, make sure to familiarize yourself with kiln safety guidelines prior to executing your firing schedule.

Once you have selected your firing schedule, press ‘Start’ and your programmable digital controller will automatically execute your firing schedule to completion. Easy as that! While it may be tempting to trust everything to your programmable kiln controller, for safety reasons you should never leave your kiln unattended during firing. While programmable controllers are extremely reliable compared to relying on a kiln sitter, there is always the possibility of relay failure or other technical mishaps (for additional safety, we recommend using an additional limit controller as an added layer of relay redundancy to force safety shutoff if the kiln exceeds certain temperature thresholds).

Programming a TAP II Digital Kiln Controller

While we can’t provide a How-To for using every programmable kiln controller on the market, below we’ll be looking at how to program a TAP II Kiln Controller (the UI for the original TAP Controller is extremely similar):

Step 1: Starting from the ‘Home Screen’

Below is a picture of the home screen on a TAP II Kiln Controller:

The home screen of a TAP II Kiln Controller

To access kiln firing schedules, or create a new one, press ‘Start’ on the right side of the screen.

Step 2: Using the ‘Schedule Selector’ Screen

On the ‘Schedule Selector’ screen, you have the ability to access all of your saved or preset kiln firing schedules by scrolling through the menu on the left side of the screen. To execute an existing schedule, select the schedule from this screen, then press ‘Start’!

If you need to edit a schedule, clicking the ‘Edit Icon’ beside the schedule title allows you to edit that firing schedule. Or, to create a new schedule, click ‘New’ on the right side of the screen.

The 'Kiln Firing Schedule Selector' screen on a TAP II controller.

Step 3: Edit and Add Steps to Your Firing Schedule

Clicking the ‘Edit Icon’ will bring you to the ‘Edit Schedule’ screen:

On this screen of the TAP II Controller, users have the ability to edit their kiln firing schedule or create a new one.

On this screen, you have the ability to add new steps and edit the Schedule Name, Ramp Rate, Setpoint, and Hold Time for each step. Additionally, you have the ability to set alerts to notify you when your kiln has reached its setpoint or hold time for each specific step. When you’re finished editing your firing schedule, click ‘Save.’

Step 4: Execute Your New Firing Schedule

When you click ‘Save,’ the controller will bring you back to the ‘Schedule Selector’ screen. Select your desired schedule and then press ‘Start.’

The Execute Schedule screen on the TAP II Kiln Controller.

From there, your TAP II Controller will automatically execute your new firing schedule. From the ‘Execute’ screen, you’ll be able to monitor exactly where your kiln is in terms of your firing schedule, as well as skip steps, access firing logs, or abort your firing.

Please Note – Most programmable digital kiln controllers are not nearly that easy-to-use or intuitive. A huge part of our focus at SDS Industries is to make using a programmable kiln controller as simple, precise, and straightforward as possible!

Explore Programmable Kiln Controllers by SDS Industries

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use programmable digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop the most advanced programmable digital kiln controllers for sale.

Posted on

Kiln Firing Chart for Pottery and Ceramics [Infographic]

Kiln firing chart blog header

When it comes to firing ceramics, different types of clays and glazes are rated for different temperatures. A kiln firing chart, also known as a cone firing chart, is a useful tool for understanding the effects of temperature on different types of clays and glazes, as well as determining what firing schedule setpoints should be used depending on the cone rating of the media you’re firing.

What Temperature Is Pottery Fired At? Understanding Different Types of Ceramics

What temperature is pottery fired at? Well, that depends. There a three main types of clay that are used to make pottery: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Each of these has different temperature requirements, as well as different properties once fired.

1. Earthenware

Earthenware clay is the most common type of clay used in ceramic firing today. Earthenware is softer than the other types of clay, making it easier to work with and more forgiving. Earthenware also has the lowest firing temperature requirements, which is why it was the first type of clay used to make pottery during the early stages of kiln history.

A collection of fired earthenware pottery to demonstrate the qualities of fired earthenware
Fired earthenware is porous and relatively soft. Earthenware ranges from white and gray hues to browns, oranges, and reds.

Firing Temperature

Earthenware clay typically reaches maturity (or optimum hardness) between 1745° F and 2012° F, although some low-firing earthenware clays can be fired in temperatures as low as 1200° F.

Cone Rating

Earthenware is what’s known as a “low fire” clay. Earthenware clay can be fired from Cone 015 up to Cone 1, but Cone 04 is the average.

Physical Properties

Since earthenware is fired at lower temperatures, it typically remains porous, relatively soft (you can scratch it with a knife!), and still absorbs water. Glazes are often required to make earthenware harder and watertight.

2. Stoneware

Stoneware is a “mid-range” or “high fire” clay that requires higher firing temperatures and a longer firing schedule than earthenware. Once it has been fired, stoneware is hard, dense, and rocklike – hence the name!

A collection of fired stoneware ceramics, demonstrating its hard, rocklike texture
Named for its hard, rock-like texture, fired stoneware is often gray or brown.

Firing Temperature

Stoneware reaches maturity between 2000° F and 2400° F – hotter than lava!

Cone Rating

Stoneware is typically fired between Cone 2 all the way up to Cone 12, with Cones 7 and 10 being the most common for mid-range stoneware and high fire stoneware, respectively.

Physical Properties

Since stoneware is fired at higher temperatures, it has time to fully vitrify, or form a glassy, nonporous bond on its surface. Finished stoneware is durable, hard, and nonporous. Unlike earthenware, stoneware is waterproof once fired even without the use of glazes.

3. Porcelain

Originating in China in 1600 BC, porcelain is a “high fire” clay that produces extremely hard, shiny, often white or translucent ceramics. Also known as kaolin clay (named after Kao-ling hill in China, where it was mined for centuries), raw porcelain is extremely dense and difficult to work. Often, porcelain is mixed with other types of clay to improve its workability.

A collection of fired porcelain ceramics, demonstrating its hard, glasslike white exterior
Fired porcelain is hard, smooth, and glasslike – notable for its white or translucent color

Firing Temperature

Porcelain typically reaches maturity between 2381° F and 2455° F – however, pure kaolin reaches maturity at 3272° F!

Cone Rating

Porcelain clay is fired between Cone 10 and Cone 13.

Physical Properties

Once fired, porcelain is extremely hard and fully vitrified, making it watertight and non-absorbent. Porcelain is noted for its distinct white color.

Understanding Firing Cone Ratings

As we mentioned earlier, different ceramic materials and glazes have a cone rating. Firing cones, or pyrometric cones, are a simple pyrometric device that indicate kiln temperature. Firing cones melt when exposed to a certain temperature for a prolonged period of time. Different ceramics and glazes are given a cone rating to indicate the temperatures at which they’ll reach maturity.

Firing cones range from 022 to 14, with 022 being the lowest temperature and 14 being the highest. As you’ll see on the kiln firing chart below, when a firing cone rating has a ‘0’ in front of it, a lower number indicates a higher fire temperature.

However, for firing cones without a ‘0’ in front of their rating, higher numbers indicate higher firing temperatures.

Kiln Firing Chart [Infographic]

In the kiln firing chart below, you’ll be able to see which temperatures correspond with various cone ratings and materials. The color gradient indicates the incandescence of the kiln at various temperatures, and the column to right indicates how the physical properties of ceramic changes at each temperature.

A pottery kiln firing chart, with temperature labels for each cones as well as insights for what changes occur in the clay at various temperatures.

Download PDF!

Reach the Right Setpoints on Your Kiln Firing Chart with Ease and Precision

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use pottery kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Controller Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven to allow you to easily manage and execute your kiln firing schedules.

We invite you to explore our selection of digital kiln controller, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP-Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

CTA to shop pages for pottery kiln temperature controllers.

Posted on

Understanding Kiln Firing Schedules for Glass, Ceramics, Pottery, and Heat Treat

Kiln firing schedules for glass, ceramics, pottery, and heat treat

The primary function of a kiln controller is to help users input (and successfully execute!) their kiln firing schedules…but what is a kiln firing schedule? Below, we’ll be helping you understand kiln firing schedules, as well as how firing schedules differ for materials such as glass, ceramic, pottery, and metal heat treat!

Definition of Kiln Firing Schedules

A kiln firing schedule is a progression of steps, made up of temperature changes over specific time intervals, that a kiln moves through during a firing. Each step of a kiln firing schedule is made up of four components:

  • Step #: Also known as a ‘segment,’ step # represents the order in which the steps of the schedule occur.
  • Ramp Rate: Measured in degrees per hour, the ramp rate is the speed at which the kiln is heated up or cooled down.
  • Setpoint: Measured in degrees, the setpoint is the desired temperature the kiln reaches during each step.
  • Hold Time: Also, known as a ‘soak,’ hold time is the length of time (defined in days, hours, or minutes) the kiln stays at a specific setpoint before advancing.

Each of these components determines the properties of the finished ware once the firing schedule reaches completion. Even extremely minor variances in adhering to kiln firing schedules can have a major impact on the finished result, so it’s important to accurately input firing schedules into your kiln controller and to utilize kiln controllers that are able to automatically execute kiln firing schedules with extreme precision.

Example of a Kiln Firing Schedule

Kiln firing schedules, sometimes colloquially referred to as programs or firing schedules, can best be described as the road map the controller uses to execute a firing. While kiln firing schedules can string together as many steps as necessary to achieve the desired firing result, below we’ll be looking at an example of a three-step firing schedule:

Example of a 3-step kiln firing schedule in order to illustrate the format and various components of firing schedules

Assuming the kiln starts at room temperature, or 70° F, the example schedule shown above will result in a firing that takes 5 hours and 24 minutes to complete. Below is a visual graph representing the firing profile of this schedule:

A 3-step kiln firing profile plotted as a line graph

In this graph, we can see that the kiln follows a 500 degree-per-hour ramp rate from time 0 (when the kiln was started) to 950 degrees (the first setpoint). Once the setpoint is achieved, the controller regulates the temperature to keep the kiln at 950° for 30 minutes.

Once the hold time from the first step is completed, the kiln advances at a rate of 1200 degrees-per-hour to a setpoint of 1425° and holds there for 20 minutes.

Finally, the kiln moves to step three, cooling at a rate of 300 degrees-per-hour down to a setpoint of 700°. Because the hold time at Step #3 is zero, the kiln firing schedule is now complete!

See our article on Alerts and Alarms so you can be notified when your kiln firing schedule reaches certain firing points! 

Ramp/Hold vs Time-to Temp Schedules

Kiln firing schedules can also be expressed in different formats. The example above is the common Ramp/Hold format, which can also be described as a Ramp/Soak or Ramp/Dwell schedule. This is the most common kiln firing schedule format, and it is also the format that is supported by TAP Kiln Controllers.

However, kiln firing schedules can also be written in a Time-to-Temp format, which contains all of the same information but prioritizes the timing of the firing as opposed to the temperature of the firing.

When generating a Time-to-Temp schedule, you are, in effect, saying “I want to be at 950 degrees in 1 hour and 45 minutes.” At that point, the controller is responsible for converting the defined “Time-to-Temp” into a usable Ramp Rate. By saying we want to be at 950° in 1 hour and 45 minutes, and assuming we’re starting from 70°, we’ve essentially created a firing schedule with an implied ramp rate of 500 degrees-per-hour.

NOTE: Some controllers that use Time-to-Temp format do not report accurate ramp rate, which can affect outcomes of the firing schedule. For instance, a Time-to-Temp controller might report that your kiln went from 100° to 1250° in one minute, because that was what it was programmed to do, even though achieving that level of temperature change over that time interval simply isn’t possible.

Below is the exact same kiln firing schedule from before written in a Time-to-Temp format:

A kiln firing schedule written in Time-to-Temp format

The firing graph for both formats would look exactly the same – and executing either format would yield the same outcome once the firing schedule reaches completion (assuming the controller was capable of converting the Time-to-Temp into an accurate ramp rate). The only difference is how the kiln firing schedule is expressed. What was defined in three steps in the Ramp/Hold format requires five steps in the Time-to-Temp format, despite yielding the same firing profile.

What Factors Does a Kiln Firing Schedule Depend On?

Kiln firing schedules are dependent on the material/media being fired, as well as the physical capabilities of the kiln. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to kiln firing schedules, as the material within the kiln will require its own unique schedule to achieve optimal results. Later in the article, we’ll be looking at examples of firing schedules for glasswork, firing ceramics, and metal heat treat.

Limitations of Kiln Firing Schedules

Now that you know the components of a kiln firing schedule, you should also understand the limitations. The physical capabilities of the kiln dictate certain physical boundaries that cannot be overcome. The material of the kiln, chamber size, power rating, and thermocouple gauge all contribute to the kiln’s demonstrated performance.

As kilns approach higher temperatures, their ability to heat at defined ramp rates begins to fall off. A kiln that can heat at a ramp rate of 3600 degrees-per-hour while at 200° will likely be unable to generate the same ramp rate at 1500°. This is a result of the kiln material and power rating.

Thermocouples are used to read the temperature inside a kiln chamber and communicate that temperature to the kiln controller. A kiln with an 8-gauge thermocouple will respond much slower to temperature input than a 20-gauge thermocouple. This can result in overshoot at low setpoints as the thermocouple needs time to “catch-up” to the heat that has been applied to the kiln.

Kiln Firing Schedules for Glass

While the kiln firing schedule example above was hypothetical, in this section we’ll explore actual kiln firing schedules for different types of glasswork techniques.

Please Note: Each of these schedules is for 90 COE glass. Additionally, each firing schedule will have to be adjusted according to your specific kiln, the size of your project, as well as the type of glass you’re using – some experimentation will be required, so please just use these as a general guideline.

For additional in-depth technical information about using your kiln to fire glass, please visit https://www.bullseyeglass.com/index-of-articles/.

Full Fuse Firing Schedule

A full fuse is when you use heat and time to combine two or more layers of glass to form one single solid piece of glass. The layers of glass fuse together – hence the name! Below is a full fuse firing schedule for projects that are smaller than 12”.

A full fuse firing schedule for 90 COE glass

  1. 400°F/Hr to 1250°F – hold 30 minutes.
  2. 600°F/Hr to 1490°F – hold 10 minutes.
  3. AFAP°F/Hr to 900°F – hold 30 minutes.
  4. 150°F/Hr to 700°F – hold 0 minutes.
  5. AFAP°F/Hr to 70°F – hold 0 minutes.

You can find temperature guidelines for additional glasswork processes here.

Glass Casting Firing Schedule

Glass casting is when you melt glass until it is soft and malleable enough to conform to a mold. The glass then hardens to create a glass object in the shape of the mold. Below is a glass casting firing schedule for a small open face mold cast:

A glass casting firing schedule for 90 COE glass

 

 

  1. 100°F/Hr to 200°F – hold 6 hours.
  2. 100°F/Hr to 1250°F – hold 2 hours.
  3. 600°F/Hr to 1525°F – hold 3 hours.
  4. AFAP °F/Hr to 1200°F – hold 4 hours.
  5. 50°F/Hr to 900°F – hold 6 hours.
  6. 12°F/Hr to 800°F – hold 1 minute.
  7. 20°F/Hr to 700°F – hold 1 minute.
  8. 72°F/Hr to 70°F – hold 1 minute.

Additional details about casting firing schedules can be found here.

Annealing Firing Schedule

Annealing glass is the process of stabilizing glass during the cooling process by holding it at a steady temperature to give it time to strengthen. COE 96 glass is typically annealed at a setpoint of 960°F. However, the size of the glass, its thickness, as well as the number of layers being used determines how long the anneal hold needs to be.

From the example of the Full Fuse Firing Schedule above, we highlighted the steps that involved annealing in green:

An annealing firing schedule for a glass kiln

Notice that Step #3 has the kiln hold at the annealing setpoint 900°F for 30 minutes in order to give the fuse time to stabilize, and then Step #4 and Step #5 have the kiln slowly cooling down from the setpoint to the final temperature.

See our article Benefits of Using a Digital Controller for Glass Kilns for more information about using your kiln for glasswork!

Kiln Firing Schedules for Ceramics

Before getting into kiln firing schedules for ceramics, it’s important to know what Cone # the material you’re firing is rated for. This represents the setpoint at which the type of material you’re using is properly fired. So, for example, Cone 04 clay would need to reach a setpoint of at least 1945°F whereas Cone 6 Porcelain would need to reach a setpoint of 2232°F.

Please Note: All of these kiln firing schedules are for 04 Cone clay. Just like with glasswork, each firing schedule will have to be adjusted according to your specific kiln, the size of your project, as well as the type of clay, stoneware, or porcelain you’re using – some experimentation will be required, so please use these as a general guideline.

Candling Firing Schedule 

Candling is the process of allowing clay to fully dry prior to high temperature ceramic firings. This involves heating your kilns to a low temperature for a prolonged period of time. Below is an example of a kiln firing schedule for candling your clay:

A pottery kiln firing schedule for candling clay

  1. 150°F/Hr to 150°F – hold 12 hours.

Simple, right? However, this is just to get the clay ‘bone-dry’ before firing it, since the natural moisture of the clay, if fired too quickly, can cause your project to crack and fissure!

Bisque Firing Schedule for Cone 04 Ceramics

A bisque firing is the process of turning clay into ceramics! Below is a slow bisque firing schedule for Cone 04 clay:

A bisque firing schedule for Cone 04 ceramics

  1. 80°F/Hr to 250°F.
  2. 200°F/Hr to 1000°F.
  3. 100°F/Hr to 1100°F.
  4. 180°F/Hr to 1695°F.
  5. 80°F/Hr to 1945°F.

You’ll notice that this firing schedule doesn’t include any hold times. However, the total firing time is 13 hours and 26 minutes. So how does that work? In this case, the firing time is dictated by the ramp rate – or the amount of time it takes for your kiln to reach each setpoint in the firing schedule.

Glaze Firing Schedule for Cone 04 Ceramic

When firing pottery, it’s important to match the Cone # of your glaze to the Cone # of your clay. In this case, we’re using Cone 04 clay, which is a “low-fire” clay. Therefore, we’d want to use a glaze that’s in the Cone 06-04 range. In other words, the temperature of the glaze firing schedule shouldn’t exceed the temperature of the bisque firing schedule.

Glaze firing schedule for Cone 04 ceramics

  1. 150°F/Hr to 250°F.
  2. 400°F/Hr to 1695°F.
  3. 100°F/Hr to 1945°F.

See our article on How to Use a Pottery Kiln Temperature Controller for more information on how to fire ceramics!

Firing Schedules for Heat Treating Metals

Just like with glasswork and pottery, kiln firing schedules for metal heat treat is extremely dependent on the type of material you’re using. But, additionally, it’s dependent on the qualities you want the finished metal to have. For heat treat, the rate at which you cool the metal has a significant impact on the molecular structure of the metal. For these examples, we’ll be working with 1095 steel.

Please Note: All of these kiln firing schedules are for 1095 steel. Just like with Each firing schedule will have to be adjusted according to your specific kiln or heat treat oven, the type of metal you’re using, its thickness, as well as the desired properties – some experimentation will be required, so please just use these as a general guideline.

You can find more information about setpoints and cooling rates for different effects on different types of metal here.

Normalizing Firing Schedule for 1095 Steel

Normalizing is a process where metal is heated to an extremely high temperature for a defined period of time and then either air-cooled or furnace cooled at a controlled ramp rate. Normalizing relieves internal stress and ensures uniformity, resulting in harder, stronger metals. Below is a normalizing firing schedule for 1095 steel:

A schedule for normalizing 1095 steel in a heat treat oven

  1. AFAP°F/Hr to 1600°F – hold for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove knife or blade from the oven and allow to air-cool.

Quench Hardening Firing Schedule for 1095 Steel

Quenching is the process where metal is heated and then cooled rapidly by dipping it into an oil, polymer, or water, resulting in very hard, very brittle metal. This increases the hardening of the metal (but also its brittleness). Below is a quench firing schedule for 1095 steel:

Heat treat schedule for quench hardening 1095 steel

  1. AFAP°F/Hr to 1600°F – hold for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove knife or blade from the oven and quench in fast oil to 150°F.

Tempering Firing Schedule for 1095 Steel

After hardening, the metal is heated to a lower temperature to reduce excessive hardness and relieve internal stress. Tempering makes metals less brittle – it should be done within two hours after the steel cools from the quench hardening process. Below is a tempering firing schedule for 1095 steel:

Tempering firing schedule for 1095 steel

  1. AFAP°F/Hr to 400°F – hold for 2 hours.
  2. Allow knife or blade to slowly cool – either air-cooled or within the oven.

You’ll notice that most heat treat applications have simple kiln firing schedules that only involve a single setpoint and aren’t dependent on ramp rate. For this reason, it might make sense to use a single setpoint controller for heat treat applications like the TAP & Go by SDS Industries.

Check out Guide to Choosing Heat Treating Controllers for more information about different types of heat treatments!

The Easiest Way to Precisely Execute Kiln Firing Schedules

The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use digital kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Controller Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven to allow you to easily manage and execute your kiln firing schedules.

We invite you to explore our selection of programmable kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP-Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop TAP Kiln Controllers CTA

Posted on

Complete Guide to Kiln Safety for Your At Home Kiln

Header Image for Complete Guide to Kiln Safety for Your At Home Kiln

When it comes to kilns, it’s safety first! With proper precautions, using an at home kiln can be an extremely safe and rewarding experience. But when temperatures run, you don’t want to take chances!

Kiln safety has three main phases: Installation, Operation, and Maintenance. In the guide below, we’ll be covering each of those phases more in-depth and providing tips for safe, seamless kiln firings.

Steps for Kiln Safety During Installation

Kiln safety starts with proper installation. When installing an at home kiln, there’s a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Select a space with proper flooring: Kilns get hot! Make sure to select a space with level flooring that’s non-combustible and able to withstand high temperatures. Concrete, tile, and linoleum floors will be more heat resistant than wood, vinyl, or carpet. Never leave your kiln directly on the floor. Always use the manufacturers included stand to ensure safe clearance from the floor below. Note: The same principles apply for table top kilns – make sure not to install them on flammable surfaces or tables.
  • Ensure proper clearance: Speaking of clearance, it’s extremely important that you give your kiln room to breathe. It’s recommended that your kiln should be located at least 18″ from non-combustible surfaces and 36” from combustible surfaces. (Note: This includes opening the lid to your kiln, so make sure to account for that as well during installation.)
  • Make sure the space is proper ventilated: Depending on the material you’re firing, your at home kiln may emit toxic gases or irritants like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or chlorine. Definitely things you don’t want to breathe! These gases may impair your health or even interfere with your ability to safely operate your kiln, so it’s important to make sure your kiln is properly ventilated and that respirators are used when dealing with noxious fumes.
  • Install your kiln in a dry area: Electricity and water don’t mix. If you’re using an electric kiln, it’s important to make sure you don’t install your kiln in an area that’s damp or exposed to moisture. Additionally, water can cause corrosion, which will reduce the life of your at home kiln components.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for installation: When you purchase your kiln, you should receive manufacturer guidelines for installation and kiln safety. Make sure to adhere to these closely when installing your kiln. If you purchase a used kiln, contact the manufacturer for installation guidelines.
  • Get any electric work done by a qualified electrician: At home kilns, especially larger ones, utilize a lot of electricity, so it’s important to make sure that you use a dedicated circuit with a properly rated power outlet and never use an extension cord. During kiln installation, it’s recommended that you enlist the help of a certified electrician to make sure your at home kiln is safely installed.
  • Make sure thermocouples are properly installed: Thermocouples help your automatic kiln controller precisely regulate the temperature of your kiln. However, thermocouples will only give you accurate temperature readings if they’re properly installed! Thermocouples should be inserted an inch or two into the interior or your kiln and should have at least 1″ clearance from any shelves, components, or any materials you place inside your kiln.
  • For DIY kiln builds, make sure relays are properly installed: Kiln relays ensure the safety of your kiln by cutting power to the elements if the kiln gets too hot. For DIY kiln or oven builds, it’s important to choose the right type of relay; for instance, solid-state and mercury relays will have far more longevity and reliability than mechanical relays. But it’s even more important to make sure that relays are properly rated and installed and that you utilize a safety relay to add redundancy in case one relay fails.
  • Don’t forget to check with your homeowners or business insurance carrier for any limitations or policy changes resulting from kiln use: Installing an at home kiln may affect your homeowners or business insurance policy – make sure to check with your provider to protect your financial safety!

Steps for Kiln Safety During Operation

Now that you have your at home kiln safely installed, it’s important to know kiln safety best practices for operation and firing:

  • Always use personal protective gear: During kiln firing, it’s important to use personal protective gear to ensure your safety. Kiln mitts or heat resistant gloves should be used when handling your kiln during firing, and dark, protective eyeglasses should be used to protect your eyes when looking into the kiln peepholes or when opening the lid.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby: High temperatures increase risk of fire, so it’s always recommended to keep a fire extinguisher on hand beside your at home kiln.
  • Do not leave your kiln unattended during firing: Although modern digital kiln controllers provide temperature safety shutoff, alerts, alarms, and the ability to monitor and control your kiln remotely from your mobile device, it’s still recommended to never leave your kiln unattended during firing.
    Diagnostics and kiln status on the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App
    The TAP Kiln Control Mobile App allows you to monitor the status of your kiln, control your kiln remotely, and review error reports.
  • Exercise caution if you need to open lid or door when your kiln is operational: Occasionally, it may be necessary to open the lid or door on your at home kiln while the kiln is operational. But when you do so, exercise extreme caution! Always wear protective gear and stand to the side of the lid or door whenever possible.
  • Let kiln cool before unloading: Even after your kiln completes a firing schedule, it can remain hot for hours. Always let your at home kiln cool completely before unloading. It’s also important to let your wares cool inside the kiln to prevent them from being cracked by abrupt changes in temperature.
  • Do not place combustible materials on or near the kiln: Before firing, always check to make sure your at home kiln still has proper clearance. Prior to and during firing, make sure not to leave anything on top of or next to your kiln.
  • Do not leave your kiln unattended near children or pets: Even if you’re aware of proper kiln safety procedures, it doesn’t mean that your children or pets will exercise the same precaution. Do not leave your kiln running in an area where children or pets will have access.
  • Wash your hands after handling: Thoroughly washing your hands after handling your ware keeps you from potentially ingesting toxic materials.

Kiln Maintenance and Upkeep

Kiln safety isn’t just limited to installation and operation. Regularly maintaining your at home kiln will ensure safety and prolong the life of your kiln components:

  • Clean the kiln between firings: Between firings, clean your kiln to ensure there is no residue or debris.
  • Always unplug your kiln before making repairs: Always unplug your at home kiln when making repairs or modifications. For additional safety, it may be prudent to leave your kiln unplugged any time you’re not using it.
  • Regularly inspect electrical components: Regularly inspect the electrical components of your at home kiln for discoloration, brittleness, or corrosion. Immediately replace these components if necessary.
  • Regularly replace thermocouples: In order to ensure accurate temperature readings for your at home kiln, it’s recommended to replace Type K Thermocouples every 30 to 50 firings.
  • Invest in digital controllers that have advanced onboard diagnostics and preventative maintenance alerts: Manual inspection has its limitations. Advanced digital kiln controllers like the TAP and TAP II Controllers from SDS Industries include onboard diagnostics, enhanced data logging, and preventative maintenance alerts to help you stay up-to-date on kiln maintenance.

The Role of TAP Automatic Kiln Controllers in Ensuring Kiln Safety

Even with all of these kiln safety tips, the safety of your at home kiln is also determined by the quality of your kiln components and the precision and reliability of your kiln controller. At SDS Industries, we are dedicated to providing the most advanced, precise, reliable controllers for your at home kiln, oven, or furnace. But more than that, we equip our controllers with features and functionalities that enhance kiln safety. These kiln safety features include:

  • PID-driven precision to ensure that your kiln precisely adheres to its intended firing schedule with fast response, minimal overshoot, and limited steady-state error.
  • Max temperature safety shutoff to ensure your kiln doesn’t surpass its rated temperature.
  • Integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App to provide you with advanced diagnostics, abort firing, and preventative maintenance alerts – so you have insight into your kiln firings even if you have to step away from your project.
  • Preventative maintenance alerts, with relay, thermocouple, and element life reporting.
  • Kiln error information and diagnostic features to keep you informed of any past, present, or future kiln component failures.

Introducing TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer 

Additionally, as part of our dedication to kiln safety, SDS Industries is excited to announce the TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer. Available as a standalone device that plugs right into your kiln, or as configurable components for installation, the TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer adds precise temperature readings, remote monitoring, push notification alerts, and safety redundancy to any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

The TAP Monitor seamlessly integrates with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App to let you remotely monitor the status of your kiln from your smartphone, watch, or tablet – regardless of what controller your kiln uses. These features will enhance kiln safety for manual or automatic kilns and add safety redundancy and max temperature shutoff in case of relay failure.

The TAP Monitor Digital Pyrometer will be releasing soon, but you can already preorder your standalone unit here or as a set of configurable components for DIY installs here.

Choose the Most Advanced, User-Friendly Automatic Kiln Controllers 

For added kiln safety and ease-of-use, the TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use automatic kiln controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Controller Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled kiln or oven.

We invite you to explore our selection of automatic kiln controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP-Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:

Shop the most advanced programmable digital kiln controllers for sale.