Ceramic 3D Printer Workshop

I had a great time yesterday at the Ceramic 3D Printer Workshop, hosted by the SUNY New Paltz Ceramics Program and conducted by Bryan Czibesz. Bryan is an Assistant Professor of Art at SUNY New Paltz, and this is the third time he has taught this workshop (first time in New Paltz). He has experimented for a long time with ceramic 3D printing and has done a lot of research to make it affordable and easy for anyone looking to get their hands on one.

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During the 6 hour workshop, participants built and printed with two delta-style extrusion-based 3D printers, as well a discussed their design and use, and the open-source DIY community that has produced design improvements for the build. Bryan’s current design allows someone to create a fairly large ceramic 3D printer for about $450.

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A ceramic 3D printer is just like any other 3D printer except that the medium that is being extruded is ceramic instead of molten plastic. Essentially, a wetter version of clay (a paste with the consistency of Spackle). A large tube is filled with the paste and controlled using air pressure at the back of the tube. This causes a constant flow of paste to extrude out. If the printing head must move over a gap, there is no way to stop the flow (in this build), and you get some interesting results.

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When printing in ceramic, you can manipulate the object that is being printed after the print takes place, or even as the part is being printed (something impossible to do with plastic)! However there are some caveats – if you want a clean model when all is done and printed, you have to keep an eye on the print, with a hand ready to adjust your air pressure or print speed, as the ceramic material density may be inconsistent (you mix up your own by hand) and line pressure may fluctuate. For larger models, strategies must be used to dry the bottom layers (but not too fast!) to add strength as the part is printed. Care must be taken when removing the print from the machine, as the part will not harden until it dries completely, and not permanent until fired in a kiln like any other ceramic artwork.

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While you may have missed out on all the fun we had building these printers yesterday, you didn’t miss out on how to build your own, as Bryan has provided all the links to the information online, as well has his parts list and where to buy them!

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You can find some of Bryan’s collaborative 3D printed work here. He has shared all of this printer parts and files on his Thingiverse page and more information about how it all comes together can be found at Jonathan Keep’s website here. If you do build your own, we would love to hear about it!

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