Functional 3D Printed Ceramics
Olivier van Herpt
“When I first started researching 3D printing ceramics the technology was an exciting and interesting one. But, the desktop 3D printers on offer were unable to produce things at a human scale. Large and medium scale functional design objects that we use such as bowls, plates & decorative objects could not be made. The objects made with desktop 3D printers were also low in heat resistance and could not be food safe. Industrial 3D printers could make food safe objects for everyday use but these would be too costly to produce. I ended up spending two years working on ceramic 3D printer and 3D printing process that could make large and medium scale functional 3D printed ceramics to solve this problem.
I designed and made my own clay extruder and experimented with many different types of clay. Iteratively improving my process and testing brought me closer and closer to a solution. I gradually solved major issues such as the collapse of objects. A breakthrough came when I decided to move from mixing clay with water. By redesigning my extruder I could use hard clay instead. This lead me to be able to make larger items with higher levels of detail.
In the early days the 3D printed ceramic vases and bowls seemed rough, with the layers clearly visible. I was able to experiment with textures, surfaces, shapes and sizes. Now I’m able to make objects up to 80 cm tall with a diameter of 42 cm. By altering the settings on my machine I can vary and give the pieces very different appearances.
The 3D Woven collection comprises of a weave pattern reminiscent of the days of artisans. 3D printing has the potential to bring back the unique and individualized objects that artisans make. But, this time it is a machine who manufactures the final product. Each unique vase in this collection shows us the potential of cutting edge technology while reminding us of the days of yore.
The Sediment collection has some of the thinnest 3D printed ceramics layers available today. Imposing, unique 3D printed interior items ushering in a new world of digital fabrication. The fine stria do remind us that the object was 3D printed but only when one is close to it.”