3D printed ceramics are practical and decorative. Read our guide to learn more about ceramic 3D printing or even build your own ceramic 3D printer.
So you want to 3D print a cool coffee mug or animal figurine for your home? Or are you looking for some special ceramics for your lab? Then you might consider ceramic 3d printing. If you’re still a rookie when it comes to ceramic 3D printing, don’t worry – we’ll fill you in.
If you’re more of a ‘do-it-yourself’ 3D printing aficionado, here are also some DIY ceramic 3D printers to get you started on your pottery, ceramic prototypes, and more.
Before we start, here are some terms you need to know when talking about ceramic 3D printing:
These services print a wide variety of ornamental, colorful objects for the home or office. The ceramic material used to print the objects is food-safe, recyclable, and water-tight. This makes it perfect for cups, saucers, plates, even statues, and figurines.
Take a look at the diagram below to see how the process works. If you’re ready to try it out, upload a design here and we’ll show you the best available price!
Shapeways offers quality 3D printed porcelain objects instead of traditional ceramic material. They argue that the material is more functional and more durable. Shapeways also offer a variety of beautiful finishes including glossy and matte colors.
Belgium-based 3D printing service i.materialise uses a slightly different technology. It 3D prints ceramics models from an alumina-silica ceramic powder sealed with porcelain and silica. A lead-free, non-toxic glaze is added for extra shine and durability and available in many colors.
Austria-based Lithoz offers a user-friendly online service and ‘plug & play’ network with different glass ceramic material options. You can also use their software to create specific ceramic parts.
Admatec is the company to go to when it comes to technical ceramic components. By use of the in-house developed Admaflex technology, they deliver ceramic printed components upon customer specifications. Materials consist of alumina- and zirconia-oxide, fused silica, aluminum toughened zirconia and silica based materials for investment casting. Ceramic 3D printing of Hydroxyapatite is currently in development.
If you want 3D printing ceramic parts for industrial or lab use, you want an experienced partner. French company 3D Ceram can offer 15 years of expertise in the field of ceramic 3D printing. They have developed their own brand of ceramic 3D printers. These printers are also available for sale. Materials for their ceramic 3D printers 3DCeram are based on zirconia, alumina, hydroxyapatite/TCP, Si3N4, cordierite, zirconsilica, and silica materials.
The company also offers services in material choice, draw-up specifications, R & D, development of a 3D part up to its industrialization, on-demand production or series-production.
Ordering ceramic 3D prints through providers is great for most people because the services are usually fast and convenient. But some people want to get their hands dirty and be part of the whole process. If you’re willing to spend the money and a significant amount of time, there are some great professional 3D ceramic printers on the market that have large volume outputs, more options, and offer great results.
Check out these DIY ceramic 3D printers manufacturers if you’re looking to get started or continue your 3D printing at home.
The WASP’s LDM professional clay extruder system is evidence of their expertise. It can be used with all of their printers, but also with third-party 3D printers. When properly set up, this technology offers some of the most precise paste extrusion ceramic 3D printing on the market.
If you’re interested, WASP’s Clay Extruder Kit 2.0 will set you back US$700 (around €650). It comes with a 5 kg tank with a stand, an extrusion piston, pressure reducer, a cochlea with an interchangeable pressure chamber, a high couple stepper engine and 10 kg of porcelain.
Plus, there’s an SD card which contains the .stl file for the two models, PowerWASP and DeltaWASP, helpful assembling instructions, and some videos on how to prepare the mixtures.
3D PotterBot is one of the first truly dedicated ceramic 3D printers, made especially for the pottery industry. It produces large volumes of undiluted ceramic materials via its large capacity constant flow RAM extruder, so you get precise and continuous flow prints.
DeltaBots, the company behind it, has specially designed the envelope for larger ceramic vessels. The maximum height of an object is 17 inches.
At the moment, you can order 8 different ceramic 3D PotterBot printers with a price range of $2,850 to $22,500. Each one’s designed to be extremely rigid in construction, yet simple with low part counts. So, you get the best possible pottery making results.
See full specs for the four Ceramic 3D printers here.
The Vorm Vrij’s LUTUM 3D Clay Printer is perfect if intend to use two different types of clay in a single print. It’s the only (semi-) affordable ceramic 3D printer out there at the moment.
“Vorm Vrij” means “Free Form” in Dutch and that’s exactly what you get: versatility. These printers give you many more options and are known to be hassle-free.
The printers include a pressure clay system, LED control system, printer assembly tools, sculpting tools, dedicated software, clay preparation tools, air systems and tools, different extruders and much more.
It used to be that if you wanted to print using clay, you had to use ZCorp’s (now 3D Systems) binder jetting technology. These systems offer industrial-grade quality at an industrial-grade price. But times have changed. These days, the older Zprinter 310 and 510 Series ceramic 3D printers are getting more inexpensive, ranging from $5000 (used) to $15.000 (new). If you don’t mind spending the extra money, you can also just adapt 3D Systems’ new x60 series of binder jetting systems.
You can also buy all-in-one 3D printers can to 3D print with a variety of 3D printing materials. Usually, you just exchange the toolhead and off you go. In the range of all-in-one 3D printers, there are some that also can extrude clay or even do food 3D printing. But be aware: These models are not dedicated ceramics 3D printers, but all-in-one machines.
Clay XYZ started offering their 3D printer through a Kickstarter in Summer 2017. According to the company, the goal of the ClayXYZ is to “want more people to experience the fun of DIY, let more people achieve their own ideas.” It is also marketed as an easy way to get into clay 3d printing, letting you explore DIY cups, bowls, and lampshades, and decorate your home with those famous buildings and statues.
But the Kickstarter project got delayed: The company ran into printer head problems and had to postpone the delivery.
The newest addition to ceramic 3D printing comes from Munich, Germany. Stoneflower3D successfully funded a ceramic 3D printer kit on Kickstarter.
Stoneflower3D promises to let you print ceramics, porcelain, plaster, experiment with pulp, wax, or even food, make custom jewelry from metal clay, and even automatically deposit paints on canvas or soldering paste on PCBs. According to the manufacturer, you can deposit layers as thin as 0.3 mm. The ceramic 3D printing kit consists of a universal print head for viscous liquids and pastes. It should be compatible with most FDM 3D printers and turn them into a ceramic 3D printer.
We’ll keep you up to speed on this interesting ceramic 3D printing kit.
When it comes to 3D printing with ceramic filament, Olivier van Herpt is probably the most interesting and gifted artist. He is known not only for his beautiful 3D printed clay objects but also to experiment with interesting new techniques, like applying sonic waves to the extruder to get new forms of patterns (All3DP reported).
He uses a custom-made clay 3D printer and a special extruder system. There’s also talk about making this printer publically available – nothing has surfaced in 2017. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we have more information.
If you‘re looking for material for clay printers, you can either go for your own secret sauce or buy some professional 3D printing ceramics material. A good place to order from online is Tethon3D from Omaha, Nebraska. Currently, they offer two materials.
Did we miss something? Please feel free to add to the comments anytime.
License: The text of "Ceramic 3D Printer Guide 2018 – All About Ceramic 3D Printing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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