Monday 28 May 2012

Ceramic printing update - May2012

An update for May and some pictures of my first ceramic objects that have now been fired -

I had my first Porcelain ceramic prints back from being fired a few weeks back, they turned out well considering these were my very first prints using the universal paste extruder. And I didn't really know what I was doing with Porcelain clay.

They have been both first and second fired, so are now very strong and hard, and a little smaller than when first printed.

During the two stage firing they have shrunk about 15 - 20% from the dried out size, and are now real solid little pots.

All the parts were printed with a 0.6mm nozzle, I now have 0.4 and 0.2mm nozzles working well, so much smaller and finer details should well be possible.

Many of the small features have fused together, giving a very nice and smooth finish, this bunny is partially hollow with just a small pin-prick hole in the bottom, I was expecting him to explode, but he looks fine.

None of these were glazed or altered during the firing process, next time I may try some glazes and some smaller pieces.

I'm also going to try to calculate how much they shrink for a given infill and water content next time around.

The only casualties were the Frogs, two were damaged in transit to the first firing so one didn't get fired, the other one was first fired and some of the feet fell off... it was second fired along with the rest and didn't suffer any further damage.
Even this one above was squashed on his head before firing, you can see his squashed eye :( so I'm not exactly sure if his feet were damaged before getting to the kiln. So I'm going to try more frogs next time.

I have a very friendly potter now with her own kiln close by, so I can get things first fired very easily, then the local college can provide the glazing and second firing process, so it's going to be lots of fun experimenting with this aspect of 3D printing.

I'm also looking into printing with Paper-clay, many thanks to everyone that has pointed me in that direction, looks very interesting indeed. I'm still reading about it and have some more people to contact, so I'll try to do another update on that when I have done some printing with it.

I also ordered some Precious metal clay (copper) but have not yet had a chance to test it out, should work well, but has some special requirements to fire copper clay, so I'm still working on that. If it does I may even order some silver-clay (really expensive, but very nice for jewellery), that looks quite amazing when fired, again thanks for pointing me towards that.

Thanks again for all the great comments and feedback from my universal paste extruder, it's great to know people like it and are using it to make awesome things.

Other news and updates -

I'm going to attempt the 30 Days of creativity event in June -

My take on it will be to attempt to improve something in the 3D printing community every day for the whole of June - gulp! I can think of about 6 ideas at the moment, so any inspiration you can give me is most appreciated!

I'll try to upload things I create to Thingiverse, but I may not have very much time to do more on them or with them until the end of June.

Any days when I just run out of time I may just create something using my favourite tool (3D printer), but I'll attempt to make it a little different from the norm.

Follow @createstuff on twitter and use the  tag if you want to get involved or look at what other people are doing for 30DOC.

They have a handy calender for planning the month if anyone else want to give it a go -

Take the printing challenge - 
Talking of challenges, RepRapBCN on the Reprap forum has started a weekly printing competition, take a look and get involved, we can all learn many things from each other doing this, it looks like the first challenge will be the very nice Sapphos Head by LukeChilson - take a look here for the model and competition rules good luck and do have a go.
Billyzelsnack already has a nice print entered, sliced with KISSlicer. (Photo Billyzelsnack)

Printers, Printers everywhere...
I'm still amazed how many new printers are being released every month, we must have had at least 8 new campaigns launched recently all with different takes on the DIY 3D printer, great stuff.

I'm watching quite a few with interest. One clever bit of innovation I'm very impressed with and want to experiment with myself is fitted on the Tantillus - Sublime is using very strong (Spectra braid) fishing line instead of belts, it seems to be doing a very good job and could be a great DIY way to remove expensive belts and pulleys from some 3D printers. I'm going to give fishing line a try on MendelMax at some point soon and see how well it works for a heavier X carriage.

I want to say a big thank you to Faberdashery, not only do they keep on making up great new colours for all of us to print with, they took time to show me around their great new studio and did an Interview with me recently, you can read it here. thanks guys, you're awesome.

Thanks for reading, and that's all for now, see you in a very busy June.


Thursday 17 May 2012


Just a quick one for fun-

Turn your worthless PLA scrap into unique works of art :)

You will need -

An oven
Baking tray
Aluminium foil
Scrap bits of PLA and any failed prints
Beer - (to help with artistic inspiration)

Lay the Aluminium foil on the tray and place your largest scrap parts onto it, don't space them too much apart as they will produce a smaller pool of plastic than you would think.

Optionally use some filament to make a round or shaped outer ring to keep all the plastic in if you want a nice shape. (PLA Pizza Anyone?)

Pop it in the oven, heat up to 210 Degrees C for about 15 mins

Then scatter on the smaller parts and heat at whatever temperature you like - 160 Degrees will make things go soft and still keep some shape of what they once were.

It's also quite interesting to throw in some ABS parts as that shrink, distort and go soft creating a more 3D sculpture.

Keep an eye on the cooking, and remove when you have the desired effect, leave to cool for a few mins and then you can trim the foil and PLA to size (wear oven gloves, if you handle it HOT!) you can form it around shapes, bottles, plates etc. or cut out butterfly shapes if you like. You should have about 5 mins cutting time, or pop it back in the oven to make it soft again.

I hope some of you try it, it's good fun and you may just make a masterpiece.

Before (Take it out of the bag!)

I'm calling my two first attempts -

After - Named 'April-12' as this was all my failed plastic in April of this year.

More very soon,