The History of Industrial Kilns

The History of Industrial Kilns

Industrial kilns have been a fundamental part of materials manufacturing worldwide for thousands of years, supplying raw compounds such as lime (CaO) and finished products like pottery through high-temperature, kiln-firing processes.

This article will explore the history of industrial kilns in some more detail:


Historical Industrial Kilns

Mankind has been using kilns since approximately 6000BC, chiefly for the formation of ceramics and the smelting of ores – and though it was still thousands of years until this equipment was utilized on an industrial scale, even these earliest kilns were capable of producing temperatures exceeding 900°C (1652°F).

Early pit-firing techniques were superseded by the utilization of a thermally-insulated firebox with an aperture through which fuels could be stoked, and a self-contained chamber for wares with a chimney to improve the kiln’s draw. This ingenious yet rudimentary formation of an industrial kiln was broadly utilized in ancient Greece, where iconic ceramics and potteries were sintered through a multiple-step firing process. These early industrial kilns were responsible for the varying oxidation of iron (Fe) concentrations in the pottery, resulting in the famous red-black coloring of ancient Greek pottery.

The Roman Empire expanded upon the established methods of Greek industrial kiln manufacturing processes by equipping open kilns with air-flow piping designed to redirect smoke away from fired products. The largest of these industrial kilns could fire up to 40,000 ceramic vessels at a time. Various iterations of these firing processes were implemented on every continent throughout history, proving fundamentally important to various economies throughout history.


Electronically-Enabled Industrial Kilns

As was universally the case for manufacturing processes in all sectors, the industrial revolution radically changed the way industrial kilns operated. The invention of electronically-enabled or gas-fired, thermally insulated firing chambers allowed for the production and reproduction of high-quality goods on previously unforeseen scales with vastly improved thermal capacities.

Electric industrial kilns vastly improved the firing process as they replaced the fuel-burning component, traditionally wood or coal, with heating elements such as metallic wires or coils which generated radiant heat using electricity – and this process is still commonly used today. Modern kilns are still primarily used for the formation of ceramics, however with increasing innovations in the manufacturing of heating components and equipment, the distinctions between industrial kilns and furnaces or ovens have become increasingly transient.


As such, there is an array of electric industrial kiln types and designs available for modern manufacturing or materials processes, with ceramic heaters equipped with integrated insulation to optimize heat distribution throughout a heating chamber. These modern industrial kilns are commonly applied for hardening processes such as annealing, tempering, and calcination. They are required to operate at temperatures of up to 1300°C depending upon the specific application, with low oxidation properties for reaction processes.

Industrial Kilns from Thermcraft

Thermcraft develop and manufacture industrial heating equipment capable of performing a range of heat treatment processes to exact specifications. We produce industrial kilns and heat-treating elements suitable for application in a range of sectors.

If you would like any more information about our industrial kilns, please do not hesitate to contact us.