Netherlands-based artist Olivier van Herpt wanted to 3D print ceramics. The problem? There was no machine that could do what he wanted. His solution was to build his own. When you think about how 3D printers work, ceramics seem like a perfect fit — especially when you take into consideration methods such as coiling, which involves taking a long roll of clay and, well, coiling it around on top of itself to build a vessel. This is very similar to how a plastic filament extruder works.
While there are, however, ceramic printers on the MARKET, these do not use wet clay; rather, like sandstone printers, they use powdered ceramic and a binding medium to produce small objects. For Dutch artist Olivier van Herpt, this wasn’t enough.
“I felt that although 3D printing was fun the machines were limited. Food safety was an issue. And you could not make human sized objects,” he told CNET. “So I set off designing and building a 3D printer of my own that was capable of making large functional things. 3D printing is a complex interplay between material, shape, function, software, electronics, engineering, material science, design and creation. The challenge of making machine is the challenge of balancing out these things. The learning curve was steep in the beginning but over the last two years I’ve learned a lot and this has all been put into the machine.”