Roca Ceramicas Rainbow series displays an array of colored tiles that look like “true” ceramic tile. Available in square and rectangular formats.

The façade of the Luz Hotel in Castellón from Tau Ceramica.

It is no secret that Spain has a long tradition in ceramics - pioneering new techniques for centuries. Although today’s industry has its origin in this noble artisan tradition, the branch evolved over the years to a cutting-edge world market competitor. The increased investment in research and development in the ceramic tile industry has transformed it into an international reference in design, quality, service and technology.

Spain is also heading the search for new applications that meet the needs of consumers, guaranteeing greater added value and helping to foster a sustainable model of development.

Today, the country is involved in various fields of research, including the development of bioclimatic construction systems able to achieve a high level of energy efficiency; the use of laser technology and digital printing systems for custom-made patterns; new dry-installation procedures; the insertion of automated home control devices in tiles; photovoltaic façades and even the application of nanotechnology to tile manufacturing.

The majority of ceramic tile plants (95% of the production) are located in Castellón, a province in the Spanish Mediterranean coast. It constitutes an industrial cluster that integrates not only tile manufacturing, but also all types of related industries and activities such as glazes and chemical engineering, machinery for ceramics, design services, R&D, etc.

Thanks to the added value that these tangible and intangible factors offer, the Spanish tile industry made a total turnover in 2006 of $5.3 million. Exports accounted for 52% of the turnover. With Spanish firms selling goods to over 180 countries, it is hard to find a country where Spanish tiles are not sold. Spain is the largest ceramic tile producer in the EU and the second largest producer in the world.

The 54 companies that are attending Coverings 2008 and representing ASCER, the ceramic tile manufacturers’ association of Spain, help to make up 98% of national production of ceramic tile. Many of the Tile of Spain branded manufacturers occupying the 40,000 square feet of the Spanish Pavilion utilize the numerous fields of research and development that have been mentioned above.

For example, the popularity of digital printing technology can be seen in many of the new collections of those manufacturers exhibiting at Coverings: Inalco’s IPLUS technology and other companies such as Grespania; Venus and Tau also employ digital printing methods. Roca Ceramica has a new line called “Prêt A Porter” that is a quick snap-down grid installation system that can completed in hours vs. days and can be put down over an existing floor.

There is also the Rainbow series from Roca Ceramica that exhibits ceramic tile for exactly what it is - to look like ceramic tile. The aesthetics are clear-cut and the Rainbow series is available in a myriad of colors so that consumer can personalize their choices.

Also on the technological forefront is Tau’s “Diet Tile” -an intelligent floor tile equipped with a voice message that may be activated between meals and can be strategically placed near the refrigerator, to tell a person to “watch your weight” or to “eat healthily.” Other microchip “smart” tiles include one that lets employees know how long they have lingered at the office coffee machine or one that detects if someone has fallen in their home (an alarm system is triggered) and is ideal for older people living on their own.

Apavisa, Tau and others are forerunners of photovoltaic façades and energy-reducing tiles that clad even their own corporate headquarters as well as other “eco-conscience” building projects.

Many Tile of Spain branded manufacturers debuted their strides during Cevisama in February, and have brought even greater improvements and new products to their lines for Coverings 2008.