3D Printing Ceramics

Ben and Lucile Sciallano built a ceramic 3D printer at a residency at Northcote Pottery

3D printers, 3D scanners and laser cutters make up the tools of the current ‘third industrial revolution’. How will this disrupt the position of the craftsman and handmade objects in the next 20 years? Will every maker have a 3D printer? How can we protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of making, while keeping the door open to new opportunities 3D printing creates?

We developed a 3d printer to print with clay, but primarily intended to combine the strengths of 3D printing with the characteristics of other ceramic manufacturing techniques. We printed whole pieces, and also added parts to slip cast pieces. We combined different techniques, so we printed shapes which couldn’t be cast, and cast shapes which couldnt be printed. For instance, a slip cast cup was transformed and improved with 3D printed parts – adding a handle or changing it into a tea pot. To do this, we analysed typologies of ceramic tableware into base elements (cup) and added elements (handle). Then experimented with different manufacturing techniques on each element.

We’d also like to thank Northcote Pottery Supplies for awarding us the residency; to Jonathan Keep, whose open source printer instructions we followed; Ryan Pennings who has helped us with tech stuff; and to Unfold who encouraged us and answered all our questions.

The installation ‘One of a kind’ won the People’s Choice Award at the Victorian Craft award, and was highly commended for the Excellence Award, judged by Tony Ellwood, NGV.

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