Sep.15, 2013

Belgian Design Studio Unfold started extruding ceramic materials with a RapMan 3D printer back in 2012. Their modified ceramics 3D printer offers possibilities to produce fine layers and new forms that traditional pottery techniques hardly can make. Inspired by Unfold's work, but also annoyed and frustrated by 3D Systems buying out Bits From Bytes and then stopping the production of the RapMan 3D printer, Jonathan Keep decided to develop his own replacement 3D printer.

This is a delta style of 3D printer built specifically for printing with clay. My aim was to keep it simple so other artists, designers and potters could build similar machines. All parts can be made with basic DIY skills or ordered off the internet. Made of easily accessible materials I did not want to rely on printed plastic part. With a build area of 20x20x25 cm the printer uses a simple compressed air extrusion print head.

Jonathan's printer design is based on bootstrap delta style printer which is good for layering up the clay. The printer runs on Johann Rocholl's modified Marlin Firmware. To generate forms Jonathan starts with Processing then edit, size in Blender. Slicing for gcode he uses an old Bit from Bites Axon program but also use Repetier-Host that offers both Skeinforge and Slic3R slicing.

The clay extruder is parts adapted from the adhesives industry: Jonathan uses parts from the Techcon Systems TS Series dispensing gun, using the cartridges, retainer body and cap but not the gun grip, and the clay is extruded out of the cartridge with the use of compressed air, around 30 psi (pounds per square inch) or 2 bar. The print head retainer and cartridge (237 ml) weighs around 650gms when filled with clay. That will print for about an hour before needing a replacement.

Images credit: Jonathan Keep

For full BOM (bill of materials), suppliers and build documentation have a look at Jonathan's website where he documentates his design.

Watch the video below for the full build and operation. "By 3D printer standards this is a rather primitive tool set, but it does offer an accessible way into a very exciting new way of working with clay." writes Jonathan.

 


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Adam wrote at 9/16/2013 3:11:17 AM:

this is awesome I am going to get one one the process matures



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