These Awesome Clay Sculptures Are Made With A 3D Printer

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Meet Taekyeom Lee, a graphic designer and an artist who designed a 3D printer and a 3D printing process to create intricate ceramic objects. Lee, an assistant professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, developed his 3D printer with clay extruder that was built based on a delta style 3D printer.

Lee’s small and medium scale ceramic objects are rather beautiful, but he considers them predominantly as research. He only prints intricate 3D shapes and typography using clay.

He spent more than a year to come up with a custom 3D printer and design a 3D printing process. He started in 2015 with the purchase of a DIY 3D printer kit. He opted for open source 3D printers to build his own tool and customize it to make something new. There was no available 3D printer in the market, so Lee made his own.

Taekyeom managed to get a workable machine after several trials and errors. Building a ceramic 3D printer was not an easy task since he was new to the world of 3D printing. According to Lee, the trial-and-error phase enabled him to learn from every failure and success. His prototype was based on an idea, then he tested a prototype, documented the result, and made another prototype until he perfected a final device.

The clay extruder came in after he built the 3D printer. Lee first tried using glue dispensers, which proved to be useless. He made one with PVC pipe and took three prototypes before coming up with a properly working extruder. The extruder has some issues in printing clay but it is quite reliable, says Lee. Users need to have multiple test prints to figure out the right psi and slicing configurations.

For his printer to create more complex objects, Lee designed a new clay extruder with an auger screw. He discovered that glue dispensing companies rely on auger valve to control the paste extrusion. He designed 56 different screws and eight housings to make the clay extruder.

Lee has proven that ceramic can also be brought to DIY open source 3D printing too. His ceramic delta 3D printer can create gorgeous typographic art with it. His fascination with unconventional methods to create 3D type led him to the development of digital fabrication and typographical practices in the post-digital age. Desktop 3D printing allowed him to make a variety of modular designs.

According to Lee, his approach can also be applied to other materials such as sugar icing. He does not limit his creative practice to traditional ceramics. Using his 3D printer, Lee also experimented with other types of clay bodies including white clay, stoneware, earthenware, porcelain, and copper clay.

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