Ceramic printer – Imperial College Advanced Hackspace

DateNov 2017
Ceramic printer printing timelapse

Top left: Timelapse of printing process. Top right: Demo Day exhibition 2017. Above: Fired pieces and air compressor with clay cartridge

A ceramic printer was developed with Project Boost Grant funding from the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace.

Clay is a non-toxic and versatile material, used for millennia to create practical and aesthetically beautiful designed objects. Developments in desktop manufacturing allow this material to be controlled in new and complex ways.

Regular fused deposition modelling (FDM) printing using plastic filament lack the finish and high quality required in homewares. Waste material and failed prints are also not easily recycled. Printing with a wet clay material allows waste to be easily recycled. The final ceramic objects can also be finished to a high-end professional standard.

Ceramic paste is stored in a cartridge, and delivered via hydraulic action through a precision nozzle using an air compressor. The position is controlled using a delta-style 3D printer frame. The required geometry can be modelled using standard CAD software and then fed into a ‘slicer’ to generate the nozzle toolpath in .gcode.

The final objects can be glazed and reworked like any other ceramic pieces made in a pottery studio. They can be successfully fired in a kiln without damage, and benefit from the resulting material properties of earthenware. Fired pieces are waterproof and resistant to high temperatures.

The printer was exhibited at the ICAH Demo Day in 2017.