Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
APPARATUSES AND METHODS FOR OBTAINING DECORATED CERAMIC
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/097447
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
An apparatus comprises container means (26) provided with an inlet opening (28) through which a plurality of ceramic materials (29) can be distributed inside said container means (26) according to a defined decorative pattern and an outlet opening (30; 49; 45) through which said plurality of ceramic materials (29) can exit towards a transfer surface (39) arranged to transfer said plurality of ceramic materials (29) to a compacting device, said container means (26) being shaped in such a way that said plurality of ceramic materials (29) is arranged on said transfer surface (39) substantially according to said decorative pattern.

Inventors:
BIGI ERMES (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2005/000934
Publication Date:
October 20, 2005
Filing Date:
April 08, 2005
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
LB OFFICINE MECCANICHE SPA (IT)
BIGI ERMES (IT)
International Classes:
B28B1/00; B28B13/02; (IPC1-7): B28B13/02; B28B1/00
Foreign References:
EP0927687A21999-07-07
EP0312938A11989-04-26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Crugnola, Pietro (Viale Corassori 54, Modena, IT)
Download PDF:
Description:
Apparatuses and methods The present invention relates to apparatuses and methods for obtaining decorated products, in particular ceramic products provided with an ornamental pattern. Decorative products are known comprising a hopper equipped with a supply opening through which ceramic material is introduced. The hopper is provided with a discharge opening through which the ceramic material can exit to enable the feeding of a ceramic press. If ceramic tiles have to be made that are decorated with an ornamental pattern having particular patterns, such as veining, streaks or blotches, for example imitating natural stone, it is provided to use ceramic materials having different properties from one another such as colour or granulometry, in such a way as to make a soft cushion inside the hopper consisting of ceramic materials distributed according to a desired arrangement. The apparatuses disclosed above are equipped with distributing devices arranged to supply the aforementioned hopper, which comprise a mixer that partially mixes together ceramic materials having, for example, different colours, before inserting them inside the hopper. This mixer may be movable by alternating movement above the supply opening so as to obtain inside the hopper a soft cushion the ornamental pattern thereof is substantially non- repetitive. The known apparatuses furthermore comprise a carriage that is movable towards and away from a press, this carriage being provided with a containing compartment inside which a grid is lodged to take a certain quantity of ceramic materials from the aforementioned hopper to transfer them inside a cavity of a mould of a ceramic press. A drawback of the apparatuses disclosed above consists of the fact that inside the aforementioned hopper a ceramic material having a certain property mixes with ceramic materials having different properties. As a result, it is impossible to obtain inside the hopper a soft cushion whose decorative pattern has a clear definition. At least in the border zones, a ceramic material having a certain colour and defining a preset layer tends to mix with a ceramic material having a different colour and defining a further layer adjacent to the aforementioned layer. When the ceramic materials are taken from the hopper by the aforementioned carriage, further mixing occurs that is due to the relative flow of particles or granules that form the ceramic materials. Furthermore, still further remixing of the ceramic materials occurs when the latter are poured from the aforementioned carriage inside the cavity of the press mould. An object of the invention is to improve the known decorating apparatuses. Another object is to obtain apparatuses and methods that enable ceramic products to be obtained from materials having different properties from one another in which undesired mixing of a material intended to define a portion of the product with a further material intended to define a further portion of the product adjacent to the aforementioned portion is prevented. A further object is to obtain apparatuses and methods that enable a cavity of a mould of a press to be supplied with a soft cushion of materials having different properties between one another without said materials mixing with one another. A still further object is to obtain apparatus and methods that enables ceramic products to be obtained provided with an ornamental pattern provided with high definition. In a first aspect of the invention, an apparatus is provided comprising containing means and partition means that defines a plurality of compartments internally of said containing means, said containing means furthermore comprising supply opening means through which ceramic materials are introduced into said compartments and discharge opening means through which said ceramic materials are delivered from said compartments, characterised in that it furthermore comprises moving means arranged to move said partition means in relation to said containing means. Owing to this aspect of the invention, it is possible to deposit on a surface arranged downstream of the aforementioned supply opening a soft cushion in which the ceramic material - delivered by one of said compartments - that defines a portion of the soft cushion is not mixed with the ceramic material - delivered from a further compartment adjacent to the aforementioned compartment - that defines a further portion of the soft cushion. In particular, if each of the aforementioned compartments contains a different ceramic material, for example in terms of colouring and/or granulometry, from the ceramic material contained in the adjacent compartments, the aforementioned soft cushion is provided with border zones between the different ceramic materials that are rather clearly defined. Furthermore, as the partition means is movable in relation to the containing means, the soft cushion obtained may comprise zones, formed by ceramic materials having different properties delimited by curved and flexuous lines. This enables, when this soft cushion - or a part of it - is introduced inside a cavity of a mould of a ceramic press and is subjected to pressing, a ceramic product to be obtained that is decorated by a decorative pattern comprising a plurality of zones separated by clearly distinct border lines, extending sinuously on a visible face of the product, or through the entire thickness of the product. In a second aspect of the invention, an apparatus is provided comprising a plurality of containers arranged to receive ceramic materials, distributing means arranged to deposit in each container of said plurality of containers a corresponding ceramic material according to a preset arrangement and intercepting means associated with said container means and arranged to deliver said ceramic materials according to a desired sequence. In a third aspect of the invention, a method is provided comprising pouring ceramic materials inside a plurality of containers in such a way that inside each container of said plurality of containers a corresponding ceramic material takes on a preset arrangement and delivering said ceramic materials according to a desired sequence. Owing to these aspects of the invention, it is possible to obtain a system for making a decorative pattern in a soft cushion of ceramic materials. In particular, it is possible to obtain a soft cushion in which ceramic materials having different properties are substantially not mixed with one another so as not to adversely affect the clearness of the aforementioned decorative pattern. Furthermore, by subjecting portions of the aforementioned soft cushion to pressing, it is possible to obtain products, for example ceramic tiles, that are finely decorated with a pattern that extends through the entire thickness of the products. In a fourth aspect of the invention, an apparatus is provided, comprising container means provided with an inlet opening through which a plurality of ceramic materials can be distributed inside said container means according to a defined decorative pattern and an outlet opening of said plurality of ceramic materials towards a transfer surface to a compacting device, characterised in that said container means is formed in such a way that said plurality of ceramic materials is introduced on said transfer surface substantially according to said decorative pattern. In a fifth aspect of the invention, a method is provided comprising distributing a plurality of ceramic materials in container means according to a desired decorative pattern, transferring said plurality of ceramic materials through a bottom opening of said container means to a transfer surface that leads to a compacting device, characterised in that said transferring occurs by moving said decorative pattern to said transfer surface. In this way, it is possible to form a preset decorative pattern in the container means and arrange on a suitable transfer surface exactly that decorative pattern, without undesired flows of material occurring that could alter it. In a sixth aspect of the invention, an apparatus is provided for feeding mould means for forming ceramic products, comprising feeding means arranged to pour ceramic materials into cavity means of said mould means, screen means interposed between said feeding means and said mould means and movable towards and away from said mould means, in which said screen means comprises opening means through which said ceramic materials can pass, said opening means having an extent substantially equal to the extent of said cavity means. In a seventh aspect of the invention, a method is provided comprising associating screen means provided with openings with matrix means of mould means, pouring ceramic materials inside cavity means of said mould means through said opening means, removing said screen means from said matrix means, characterised in that during said removing moving said matrix means to said screen means by a quantity at least substantially equal to the thickness of said screen means is provided for. Owing to these aspects of the invention, it is possible to obtain a system for supplying mould means with a soft cushion of ceramic materials that is completely contained inside cavity means, in such a way that a decorative pattern made in said soft cushion is not spoiled during the subsequent phases of a work cycle that relates to the mould means . In particular, the method disclosed above is particularly suitable for loading mould means not integrally fixed to a press but suitable for being moved through a plurality of loading and/or decorating stations of a system made according to the teachings of Italian patent application RE2002A000053. The invention will be better understood and carried out with reference to the attached drawings that illustrate some exemplifying and non-limiting embodiments thereof, in which: Figure 1 is a partially sectioned schematic perspective view of a decorating apparatus; Figure 2 is a view like the one in Figure 1 showing a version of the decorating apparatus; Figure 3 is a view like the one in Figure 1 showing a further version of the decorating apparatus; Figure 4 is a transverse section of hopper means of the apparatus in Figure 1, showing the hopper means before the start of operations of supplying a cavity of a mould; Figure 5 is a section like the one in Figure 4, showing the hopper means during the operations of filling of a cavity of a mould; Figure 6 is a section like the one in Figure 4, showing a version of the hopper means. Figure 7 is a schematic transverse section of a distributing apparatus of ceramic materials associated with the hopper means in Figure 3; Figures 8 to 11 are schematic sections taken along a longitudinal plane of casing means of the distributing apparatus in Figure 7, each of the casing means containing a ceramic material having different properties from those of the ceramic materials contained in the other casing means; Figure 12 is a perspective view of the hopper means in Figure 7, after the ceramic materials shown in Figures 8 to 11 have been introduced in the aforementioned hopper means; Figures 13 to 17 are transverse sections of mould means, showing subsequent loading phases of the mould means by means of the hopper means in Figure 3; Figure 18 is a version of the hopper means in Figure 4; Figure 19 is a further version of the hopper means in Figure 4; Figures 20 and 21 are still further versions of the hopper means in Figure 6. Figure 1 shows a decorating apparatus 1 comprising a hopper 2 defined by peripheral walls 3. Inside the hopper 2 a first partition 5 and a second partition 6 that cooperate with the peripheral walls 3 to define a plurality of compartments 4, these compartments comprising a first compartment 4a, a second compartment 4b and a third compartment 4c arranged adjacent one another. Each compartment 4 comprises a supply opening 7, through which a ceramic material having a certain degree of flowability is introduced inside the compartment 4, and a discharge opening 8, through which the material contained inside the compartment 4 exits from the hopper 2. In particular, the discharge opening 8 can have an extent that is substantially equal to that of the transverse section of the compartment 4. In other words, the extent of the discharge opening 8 depends on the position of the first partition 5 and/or of the second partition 6, as will be described in greater detail below. The first compartment 4a, the second compartment 4b and the third compartment 4c are supplied with ceramic materials 29 (Figure 4) having different properties from one another, in particular the ceramic materials 29 may have different colours and/or different granulometry• The decorating apparatus 1 furthermore comprises driving means that is not shown arranged to move the first partition 5 and the second partition 6 in relation to the peripheral walls 3, during the delivery of the ceramic materials 29, as shown respectively by the arrow Fl and by the arrow F2. The driving means may, for example, comprise a pair of motors, each of which rotates a worm screw that engages with a nut rotatingly supported on the first partition 5 or on the second partition 6. In this way, the first partition 5 and the second partition 6 are movable in relation to the peripheral walls 3, independently of each other. Below the hopper 2 a conveyor belt 9 is provided that is closed as a ring and is tighten between a roller 10 and a further roller that is not shown. During operation, whilst the conveyor belt 10 is made to advance in the direction shown by the arrow F, the ceramic materials 29 are transferred through the discharge openings 8 from the hopper 2 to the conveyor belt 9. At the same time, the first partition 5 and the second partition 6 are shifted independently of one another in relation to the peripheral walls 3. In this way, on the conveyor belt 9 a soft cushion 14 is obtained in which three distinct zones are clearly identifiable, a first zone 11, comprising a ceramic material having a certain property, for example a set colour, a second zone 12 comprising a further ceramic material of a further colour and a third zone 13 comprising a still further ceramic material of a still further colour. The soft cushion 14 is therefore provided with an ornamental pattern defined by zones with a different colouring that have, at the border regions interposed between them, a curvilinear development. In particular, the use of a first movable partition 5 and of a second movable partition 6 enables the aforementioned curvilinear development to be obtained without mixing of the materials that constitute the different zones. The first partition 5 and the second partition 6 project from a lower zone of the hopper 2 in such a way that a lower end portion of the first partition 5 and of the second partition β is partially immersed inside the soft cushion 14. Figure 2 shows a version of the decorating apparatus 1 comprising a first partition 5 and a second partition 6 having a certain thickness. In this way, the first partition 5 and the second partition 6 enable a soft cushion 14 to be obtained that is provided with a further zone 18 - interposed between the first zone 11 and the second zone 12 - and a still further zone 19 - interposed between the second zone 12 and the third zone 13, in which none of the ceramic materials 29 contained in the compartments 4 is present. In other words, the further zone 18 and the still further zone 19 define in the soft cushion 14 a pair of grooves 51 having a curvilinear development. In this case, the apparatus may comprise distributing means, which are also not shown, which pour into the grooves 51 further ceramic materials having, for example, a color that is different again from that of the ceramic materials that constitute the first zone 11, the second zone 12 and the third zone 13. In this way, the soft cushion 14 is decorated by an ornamental pattern comprising veining. As the first partition 5 and the second partition 6 can be moved at will, independently of each other, it is possible to obtain soft cushions having ornamental patterns that are different from one another, which enables the ceramic products obtained from the pressing of portions of the soft cushion 14 to be given a natural appearance. The hopper 2 can be shifted transversely in relation to the conveyor belt 9, as indicated by the arrow F9. By suitably synchronising the shift of the hopper 2 and the shift of the first partition 5 and of the second partition 6 inside the hopper 2, in the soft cushion 14 it is possible to make decorated zones, or veins, extending from an edge region of the soft cushion. Two possible configurations that the hopper 2 can assume after being transferred to the right or to the left from a central position are indicated in Figure 2 by a dashed line and by a dash-dot line respectively. In a further version, shown in Figure 3, the decorating apparatus 1 comprises a first partition 5a and a second partition 6a, each of which consists of a casing 20 defined on the side by a pair of flanks 21. The flanks 21 define a chamber 22 intended to receive through a further supply opening 24, a ceramic material having different properties from those of the ceramic materials with which the compartments 4 are supplied. At a part 23 of the casing 20 that is more distant from the further supply opening 24, the flanks 21 converge on each other to define a further discharge opening 25 having a limited extent. The version of the decorating apparatus 1 disclosed above enables a soft cushion 14 to be obtained that is provided with a high-quality ornamental pattern, in which between the first zone 11 and the second zone 12 and between the second zone 12 and the third zone 13 fine veins are defined - in an extremely clear manner, namely having rather a limited width. The hopper 2 can be shifted transversely to the feeding means 26, or to the conveyor belt 9 - if present - as indicated by the arrow F9. The first partition 5a and the second partition βa can be shifted until they substantially make contact with the peripheral walls 3 that laterally delimit the hopper 2. In this way, by suitably regulating the shift of the hopper 2, as indicated by the arrow F9, and the shift of the first partition 5a and of the second partition βa, as indicated by the arrow Fl and by the arrow F2, respectively, it is possible to obtain veins that lead away from a lateral zone of the edge of the soft cushion 14. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, the soft cushion 14 can be transferred from the conveyor belt 9 into feeding means 26 that will be disclosed with greater detail below. Alternatively, as shown in Figure 3, the ceramic materials delivered from the discharge openings 8 - and from the further discharge openings 25, if present - can be received directly inside the feeding means 26, without the conveyor belt 9 having to be necessarily provided. With reference to Figure 7, there is shown a distributing apparatus 53 comprising a containing element 54 provided with a delivery slit 55 below which feeding means 26 is arranged. Above the containing element 54 there is provided a plurality of further cases 56 arranged to receive ceramic materials and transfer them inside the containing element 54. In particular, the further cases 56 comprise a first further case 56a, a second further case 56b, a third further case 56c and a fourth further case 56d supplied with ceramic materials having different properties from one another, for example different colors. Each of the further cases 56 comprises an inlet section 57, through which one of the aforementioned ceramic materials can be inserted, and an outlet section 58, through which through which the ceramic material can be delivered. On-off intercepting means is associated with the outlet sections 58. The intercepting means comprises gate valves 59, each of which is hinged on the respective further case 56 and thus oscillating to be able to alternatively assume an opening position, in which it enables the exit of the ceramic material, and a closing position, in which it prevents the exit of the ceramic material. Each further case 56 is supplied by a hose 61 having an end 62 movable along the inlet section 57, as will be described in greater detail below, and a further end, not shown, connected to a tank of the ceramic material. The further cases 56, the containing element 54 and the delivery slit 55 obtained therein have a longitudinal dimension that is substantially equal to the length of the feeding means 26. The distributing apparatus 53 furthermore comprises linear shifting means 63 arranged to move each of the ends 62 of the hoses 61 along the inlet section 57. The distributing apparatus 53 is furthermore provided with guide means, which is not shown, that is associated with the inlet sections 57 and arranged parallel to the latter, for guiding the shift of the ends 62. With each end 62 there is associated a metering valve 64 for example actuated by a solenoid, shaped in such a way as to adjust the quantity of ceramic material that is delivered from the end 62. By using the metering valves 64 it is possible to vary the quantity of ceramic materials that are delivered through the ends 62, during the shift of the ends 62 along the inlet section 57. By suitably combining the shifting movement of the ends 62 and the extension that the delivery section of the valves 64 has instant by instant it is possible to deposit inside the further cases 56 ceramic materials according to a desired arrangement. In particular, as shown in Figures 8 to 11, it is possible to deposit a first ceramic material 65 inside the first further case 56a, a second ceramic material 66 inside the second further case 56b, a third ceramic material 67 inside the third further case 56c and a fourth ceramic material 68 inside the fourth further case 56d. Subsequently, by acting on the gate valves 59, the first ceramic material 65, the second ceramic material 66, the third ceramic material 67 and the fourth ceramic material 68 are deposited in sequence inside the containing element 54 and, passing through the latter, they are introduced inside the feeding means 26. In this way, as shown in Figure 12, inside the feeding means 26 a soft cushion is obtained in which the first ceramic material 65, the second ceramic material 66, the third ceramic material 67 and the fourth ceramic material 68 define a desired decorative pattern. Pressing portions of the soft cushion 14 enables ceramic products to be obtained provided with a decorative pattern that extends through the entire thickness of the products. The containing element 54 is laterally delimited by a pair of tilted walls 69 mutually converging on the delivery slit 55 in such a way as to encourage the transfer of the ceramic materials from the containing element 54 to the feeding means 26. With the feeding means 26 there is associated a maximum filling probe 70 and a minimum filling probe 71 that control the gate valves 59. With reference to Figure 4, the feeding means 26 is shown in greater detail, which comprises a further hopper 27 having vertical walls and being provided with an inlet port 28, through which the ceramic materials 29 are distributed inside said feeding means 26 according to a defined decorative pattern. The ceramic materials 29 are introduced inside the further hopper 27 in the manner described with reference to Figures 1 to 3, or with the methods disclosed with reference to Figures 7 to 12. Alternatively, the ceramic materials 29 can be introduced inside the further hopper 27 by known distributing devices. The further hopper 27 furthermore comprises an outlet port 30 through which the ceramic materials 29 can exit to the exterior of the feeding means 26. The ceramic materials 29, delivered from the outlet port 30, are arranged on a transfer surface 31 in such a way as to form a layer 32, in which the ceramic materials 29 are substantially distributed according to the aforementioned defined decorative pattern. The transfer surface 31 can be obtained on a matrix 33 arranged in a cavity 34 of a mould 35 of a ceramic press. The outlet port 30 is surrounded by a containing ring 36 having a plan shape that is substantially equal to the plan shape of the outlet port 30. In a version that is not shown the further hopper 27 does not comprise the containing ring 36. The outlet port 30 is defined by a first side 37 having a length that is substantially equal to that of a corresponding side of the cavity 34 to which it is substantially parallel. The outlet port 30 is furthermore provided with a second side 38 and with a further second side, which is not shown, extending parallel to each other on opposite ends of the first side 37. The first side 37 has a greater length than the second side 38 and the further second side. The containing ring 36 rests on a sliding plane 39 of the aforementioned ceramic press and is arranged to control the exit of the ceramic materials 29 from the outlet port 30. The further hopper 27 is provided with a shutter 41 and with a further shutter 42 that are vertically movable in a direction indicated by the arrows F3 in Figure 4, the shutter 41 and the further shutter 42 each being arranged to contain on the first side 37 - the one on a longer length - and on a third side 43 of the outlet port 30, parallel to the first side 37, the ceramic material during its exit from the further hopper 27. As shown in Figure 5, the further hopper 27 can translate in a direction indicated by the arrows Pl and P2, or in a direction substantially parallel to the second side 38 of the outlet port 30 - the one of shorter length - to pass from a zone 44 of the sliding plane 39 to a further zone 45 of the sliding plane 39 opposite the zone 44 in relation to the cavity 34, so as to deposit the ceramic materials 29 in the cavity 34. The feeding means 26 is therefore movable between a rest configuration, indicated by A in Figure 4, in which the outlet port 30 is in contact with the zone 44, and a further rest position, not shown, in which the outlet port 30 is in contact with the zone 45. The zone 44 and the further zone 45 of the sliding plane 39 are such as to prevent the ceramic materials contained inside the further hopper 27 from being able to cross the outlet port 30 when the feeding means 26 is in the rest configuration A, or in the further rest position. In the rest configuration A and in the further rest configuration, the sliding plane 39 thus acts as a barrier for the ceramic materials 29, enabling the ceramic materials 29 to exit from the further hopper 27 only at the cavity 34. When the further hopper 27 is transferred in the manner disclosed above in the direction indicated by the arrow Pl, the feeding means assume a work configuration, indicated by C in Figure 5, in which the ceramic materials 29 are poured inside the cavity 34. The outlet port 30 has a dimension parallel to the second side 38 and to the further second side - i.e. the dimension parallel to the transfer direction of the further hopper 27 in the direction of the arrows Pl and P2 - which may be smaller, substantially the same, or greater than the depth of the cavity 34 of the mould inside which the ceramic materials 29 have to be poured. If the aforementioned dimension is substantially equal to the depth of the mould 35, the ceramic materials 29 can be transferred inside the cavity 34 without the ornamental pattern defined by them being substantially altered. The distance between the outlet port 30 and the transfer surface 31 is of the same order as the thickness of the layer 32. When the feeding means is in the operating configuration C, the shutter 41 is lowered in such a way as to partially occupy a region of the cavity 34. In this way, the shutter 41 prevents the ceramic materials 29 from flowing to occupy the entire volume of the cavity 34, the aforementioned flowing may generate a mixing of the ceramic materials such as to impair the clearness of the decorative pattern being obtained. When the further hopper 27 is in a position near the further zone 45, the shutter 41 is lifted in such a way as to enable the further hopper 27 to reach the further zone 45 and to be positioned in the further rest configuration. After the ceramic materials 29 were pressed and a ceramic product obtained from them was evacuated from the cavity 34, the further hopper 27 performs a new stroke, in the direction indicated by the arrow P2. During the aforementioned further stroke, a further shutter 42, arranged on the third side 43, is lowered to contain the ceramic material that is deposited inside the cavity 34 of the mould 35. An new layer 32 is formed inside the mould 35, after which the further hopper 27 is again placed in the rest configuration A. As a result of what has been expounded above the ceramic materials distributed in the further hopper 27 do not only form a precursor of the decorative pattern that it is wished to be obtained. Owing to the invention, in fact, a real decorative pattern, defined when the ceramic materials 29 are deposited inside the further hopper 27, is reproduced on the transfer surface 31 without substantial alterations. With reference to Figure 18, there is shown a version of the feeding means 26 in which in the further hopper 27' the first side 37' and the second side 43' converge on the outlet port 30. The further hopper 27' thus comprises a transverse section with a substantially "V" shape. The shutter 41' and the further shutter 42' are movable parallel respectively to the first side 37' and to the third side 43' . Owing to this version, the ceramic materials exiting from the outlet port 30 are conveyed to the transfer surface 31 without substantial corresponding flows. In a version that is not shown, the first side 37' and the third side 43' are arranged such as to converge on the inlet port 28. In Figure 19 there is shown another version of the feeding means 26, in which instead of the further hopper 27 a containing device 90 is provided that is arranged to contain the ceramic materials, which are not shown, in a collecting region 98 defined between a pair of belts 91. Each belt 91a and 91b of the pair of belts 91 comprises a belt surface 92a, 92b, closed in a ring and substantially stretched between a first drum 93a, 93b and a second drum 94a, 94b, that rotate in a direction, respectively Rl and R2, in such a way as to push the ceramic materials interposed between the two belts 91 towards an outlet port 95. The rotation directions, Rl and R2, of the belts 91 are discordant with each other. In particular, the first drum 93a, 93b is driven by motor means that is not shown and controls rotation of the belt surface 92a, 92b, and of the second drum 94a, 94b. In a version that is not shown, the directions Rl and R2 may¬ be concordant with each other. In a further version, the first drum 93a, 93b is a driven drum, whereas the second drum 94a, 94b is a motor drum. Each belt surface 92a, 92b comprises an inner part 101a, 101b, facing the inside of the collecting region 98 and arranged to interact with the ceramic materials and an external part 102a, 102b, facing the outside of the containing device 90. The internal parts 101a, 101b are substantially parallel to one another and at a distance from one another that is substantially equal to the depth of material that it is wished to obtain on the transfer surface. The internal parts 101a, 101b are furthermore tilted in relation to the transfer surface provided below the containing device 90, this transfer surface being substantially horizontal. Alternatively to the version shown in Figure 19, the internal surfaces 101a, 101b may be converging on the outlet port 95, or be diverging. The containing device 90 furthermore comprises a pair of walls 97 that laterally delimit the collecting region 98. Below the belt 92b in a region of the second drum 94b facing the outside of the containing device 90, there is provided a member 99 equipped with a sliding surface 100 arranged substantially parallel to the external part 102b so as to form an extension of the external part 102b. In a version that is not shown, the member 99 is arranged in a more internal region of the second drum 94b, so as to substantially form an extension of the inner part 101b so as to enable an easy exit of the ceramic material from the containing device 90. In a further version, the member 99 is not provided and the outlet mouth 95 is arranged near an end of said belts 91 facing the transfer surface. With the outlet port 95 there is associated a closing element 96 that enables the exit of the ceramic materials from the containing device 90 to be stopped. The closing element 96 is movable between a closed configuration G, in which it is arranged transversely with the outlet port 95 in such a way as to interact with the member 99 to prevent the ceramic materials from exiting from the containing device 90, and an open configuration, not shown, in which it is moved away from the outlet port 95, so as to enable the ceramic materials to exit from the collecting region 98. During operation, the containing device 90 is driven to move in a direction that is substantially parallel to the transfer surface, in a direction indicated by the arrows P3 and P4, in a manner similar to that indicated for the version in Figure 5. In particular, at the transfer surface the closing element 96 is kept in the open configuration in such a way that it can discharge the ceramic materials contained therein. When the containing device 90 reaches zones in which the ceramic materials must not be deposited, the closing element 96 is driven to reach the closed configuration G. The transfer surface can be obtained on an active portion of a conveyor belt. Figure 6 shows a version of the feeding means 26, comprising a still further hopper 46 having two opposite walls 47, parallel and tilted by the same angle α in relation to a plane parallel to the transfer surface 31, which is obtained on an active surface of a conveyor belt 48. In particular, the angle α may be of 45°. The conveyor belt 48 is arranged below the still further hopper 46 at a distance that substantially corresponds to the thickness of the layer 32 that it is desired to form. The conveyor belt 48 receives the ceramic materials - which exit from an outlet opening 49 provided in the still further hopper 46 - to direct them, as shown by the arrow L, to an operating station, for example a mould of a ceramic press. The still further hopper 46 comprises a sheet 50, arranged on a side opposite the one in which the layer 32 develops, the sheet 50 being shaped in such a way as to stop the exit of the ceramic material onto said side of the still further hopper 46. The outlet opening 49 is arranged at a distance from the transfer surface 31, which is about equal to the thickness of the layer that it is desired to obtain. The distance between the opposite walls 47 may be substantially equal to or longer than or shorter than the distance between the outlet opening 49 and the transfer surface 31. The decorative pattern formed in the still further hopper 46 is substantially the same decorative pattern that is found on the transfer surface 31, inasmuch as, during the deposit of the ceramic materials, there are no reciprocal flows of the particles that form the ceramic materials. A hopper having parallel and tilted walls in relation to the transfer surface can be provided in the versions of the feeding means disclosed above with reference to Figures 4 and 5. Furthermore, the angle α may be of any degree, in particular the degree can be appropriately chosen on the basis of the features of the ceramic material used, such as specific weight, dimension of the particles. With reference to Figure 20 there is shown a version of the feeding means 26, in particular the still further hopper 46, wherein the ceramic material inside the still further hopper 46 is deposited on a further cushion of material 114 previously placed on the active surface of the conveyor belt 48. In this version the conveyor belt 48 is arranged below the still further hopper 46 at a distance that is greater than the thickness of the layer 32 that it is desired to form, in particular it is equal to the sum of the thicknesses of the further cushion of material 114 and of the layer to be deposited. In Figure 21 there is shown a version of the feeding means 26 in which the still further hopper 46 comprises opposite walls 47a, 47b, which are parallel and arranged substantially orthogonally to the transfer surface. In a base portion of the further hopper 27, inside it, there is provided a further member 105, with a substantially triangular section, on which there is provided a further sliding surface 103 tilted in relation to the wall 47a that is arranged further upstream in relation to the advancing direction of the conveyor belt 48. The ceramic materials contained in the still further hopper 46 are induced by the further sliding surface 103 to rest directly on the transfer surface 31, or on a further cushion of material 114 as shown in Figure 21, without the corresponding arrangement of the ceramic materials being substantially modified. The ceramic materials are leaded by the further member to the outlet opening 49. The outlet opening 49 is obtained on the wall 47b arranged further downstream in relation to the advance direction of the conveyor belt 48. At the outlet opening 49 there is associated a still further shutter 104, that is movable substantially parallel to the wall 47b in a direction indicated by the arrows N in Figure 21. The still further shutter 104 can be positioned in such a way as to protrude from the wall 47b to limit a transverse dimension of the outlet opening 49. In this way it is possible to adjust the thickness of the layer 32 that it is desired to form. In a version that is not shown, the still further shutter 104 can also be provided for the version of the feeding means in Figure 20. As shown in Figures 13 to 17, the feeding means 26 disclosed above can cooperate with movable frame means 73 to define a loading apparatus 74. The loading apparatus 74 is suitable for being used in loading stations of a system made according to the teachings of Italian patent application RE2002A000053. Alternatively, the loading apparatus 74 may comprise feeding means made in different ways, in particular a hopper of the known type. The loading apparatus 74 comprises shift promoting means, that is not shown, arranged to shift the movable frame means 73 towards and away from moulds 72, as will be described in greater detail below. The movable frame means 73 comprises a plate 75 of a thickness S that is rather limited. The loading apparatus 74 furthermore comprises guide means that is not shown, arranged to enable the shift of the feeding means 26, as indicated by the arrows F4 and F5. During the said shift, the further hopper 27 is kept at a preset height D in relation to a support plane 84 of a support element 85 that supports the moulds 72 in one of the abovementioned loading stations. The moulds 72 comprise a matrix 76 that delimits two cavities 77 inside which respective lower punches 78 are received that are arranged to cooperate, during pressing operations, with upper punches that are not shown. The lower punches 78 are fixed to a base 89 of the moulds 72. In the plate 75 two openings 79 are obtained having a plan section that is substantially equal to that of the cavities 77, each opening 79 being above a respective cavity 77. A face 80 of the plate 75 that is more distant from the moulds 72 defines the sliding plane 39 on which the feeding means 26 slides in a similar manner to those disclosed with reference to Figures 4, 5, 18 and 19. With reference to Figure 13, there is shown a mould 72 arranged in an ejection configuration X, in which an active surface 81 of the lower punches 78 is substantially coplanar with a upper face 82 of the matrix 76 in such a way as to enable the evacuation from the mould 72 of ceramic products obtained by pressing in the course of a previous work cycle of the mould 72. The Figure 13 furthermore shows the movable frame means 73 in a raised position H, in which a further face 83 of the plate 75, opposite the face 80, is distanced from the upper face 82 of the matrix 76. In the raised position H, the plate 75 closes the outlet port 30 of the hopper 27, in such a way as to prevent the delivery of the ceramic materials 29 by the feeding means 26. Figure 14 shows a subsequent phase of the cycle of loading of the mould 72 in which, whilst the movable frame means 73 is maintained in the raised position H, the mould 72 is taken to a first loading configuration Y, in which the matrix 76, after being shifted in the direction of the arrow F6, defines the cavities 77. In the first loading configuration Y, a lower face 88 of the matrix 76, opposite the upper face 82, is lifted by a distance hi in relation to the base 89. Figure 15 shows a further phase of the loading cycle of the mould 72 in which, whilst the mould 72 is kept in the first loading configuration Y, the movable frame means 73, after being shifted in the direction indicated by the arrow F7, is arranged in a lowered position K, in which the further face 83 of the plate 75 is placed in contact with the upper face 82 of the matrix 76. The containing ring 36 that surrounds the outlet port 30 of the further hopper 27 and is externally slidingly coupled with the latter, shifts in the direction of- the arrow F7, keeping in contact with the face 80 of the plate 75, in such a way as to prevent undesired exits of ceramic materials from the further hopper 27. In the version in which the containing ring 36 is not present it is the further hopper 27 that shifts in the direction F7. Subsequently, the feeding means 26 is translated in the direction indicated by the arrow F5 in such a way as to fill the cavities 77, as shown in Figure 16. Filling of the cavities 77 occurs in the manner disclosed with reference to Figures 4 and 5. In particular, during the translation of the feeding means 26, the shutter 41 is partially received inside the cavities 77 so as to control the delivery of the ceramic materials from the further hopper means 27. Figure 16 shows that a part 86 of the ceramic materials is effectively contained inside the cavities 77 defined by the matrix 76, whereas a further part 87 of the ceramic materials is contained inside the openings 79 presents in the plate 75. Figure 17 shows a further phase of the loading cycle of the mould 72 in which the movable frame means 73 is moved in the direction indicated by the arrow F8, in such a way as to be again placed in the raised position H. Simultaneously, the matrix 76 is moved in the direction indicated by the arrow F8, by a length that is substantially equal to the thickness S of the plate 75, to reach a second loading configuration Z. In this way, the volume of the cavities 77 is increased so that they can contain, in addition to the part 86, also the further part 87. In the further loading configuration Z, the lower face 88 is lifted in relation to the base 89 of a further distance h2 substantially equal to the sum of the distance hi and of the thickness S. Subsequently, the mould 72 is picked up from the loading station to be transferred to further work stations provided in the aforementioned system. It is understood that the features disclosed in the disclosure of the Figures with reference to a specific version can be claimed also in relation to any other disclosed version or also for itself.