Dec 27, 2017 | By Benedict

Munich-based 3D printing startup StoneFlower has developed a Ceramic 3D Printing KIT that enables ordinary FDM 3D printers to print objects in clay, porcelain, and other materials. The startup will launch a Kickstarter campaign for the kit in the coming weeks.

For those of you who spent lots of money buying ceramic ornaments as Christmas presents this year, we’ve got some bad news: you could have just 3D printed them for a fraction of the price! Never mind, however, because a new FDM 3D printer accessory will be launched in the coming weeks that makes ceramic 3D printing easy and accessible for all users. It might be too late for Christmas this year, but the Ceramic 3D Printing KIT still looks like good value for money.

The new 3D printer add-on is the brainchild of Germany-based startup StoneFlower, a project of two Russian engineering academics, Anatoly Berezkin and Stanislav Mironov. After honing their 3D printing skills at the Max-Planck Institute in Düsseldorf and the Technical University of Munich, respectively, Berezkin and Mironov formed StoneFlower in early 2017 in order to develop new solutions for the 3D printing of highly viscous pseudoplastic liquids like clays and pastes.

After more than six months of hard work that involved optimizing mechanics, hydrodynamics, and electronics, StoneFlower’s flagship product, the Ceramic 3D Printing KIT, is almost ready for launch as part of a Kickstarter campaign.

Compatible with the majority of FDM 3D printers on the market, the kit can be used for a variety of purposes: to print ceramics, porcelain, and glazes; to experiment with the 3D printing of resins, pulp, wax, or even food; to make custom jewelry from metal clay; or to automatically deposit paints on canvas or soldering paste on PCBs.

The accessory consists of two pieces: a universal print head with Auger extruder, compatible with most FDM printers, that removes air bubbles and non-homogeneities from manually prepared clay (emulating an industrial pug mill), and a syringe pump for viscous liquids and pastes.

The print head is able to deposit materials in layers as thin as 0.3 mm, and the pump—described as “exceptionally accurate” and safer than an air compressor—has a capacity of around 500 ml or 900 g of clay. StoneFlower says these twin components are the first on the market that can be easily assembled and disassembled for manual cleaning.

This simple maintenance makes the Ceramic 3D Printing KIT cheap to maintain, while the product itself will also be priced fairly. Available to back on Kickstarter starting some time in January 2018, the kit will cost 450 euros or ~$535 (early bird), which makes the solution around 10 times cheaper than low-end dedicated ceramic 3D printers on the market.

If you’re wondering whether a ceramic 3D printer add-on would be beneficial for you, StoneFlower’s argument in favor of the tool is that ceramics are durable, food-safe, heat-resistant, strong, and natural. Ceramic raw materials can also be around 10 times cheaper than plastics, while non-burned ceramics are reusable, making them useful for long prototype series in fields like architecture.

But StoneFlower’s kit can process materials beyond ceramics as well. Paints, metal clay, soldering pastes, wax, and even foods like chocolate can all be put through the system, while the startup has even developed a special microprinting set for printing tiny amounts of expensive materials. This add-on makes use of food-safe syringes, and can be used to experiment with new materials.

Delivery for the kits, which are fully open source and built using standard components, is expected April 2018.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Accessories

 

 

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