Bootstrap ceramic delta printer

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Jonathan Keep

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Jun 13, 2013, 8:07:10 AM6/13/13
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For two years I have been printing in clay with a Bits from Bytes RapMan using the Unfold ceramic print head adaption. However with 3D Systems stopping the production of RapMan's I was looking for a replacement printing rig. Liking the movement and build of the delta I have had a go at building a very simple version, MDF and bought in parts (I don't print in plastic) and initial test look very promising  - see YouTube video

The ceramic print head is adapted from a compressed air paste gun from the adhesive industry. Basically it's a large syringe filled with soft clay that is extruded under around 2 bar of air pressure. The print head weighs about 800 gms, more than a can and a half of baked beans and as you can see the delta carries it well.

If you are curious to see what I do this is my portfolio of digital pots and there is more about the ceramic 3D printing I have done in my website journal. I live and work on the Suffolk Coast in the UK and would be interested to hear from anybody else developing delta printers nearby.
 

 

 

 

david b

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Jun 13, 2013, 8:18:00 AM6/13/13
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That is really cool :)

Shai

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Jun 13, 2013, 1:16:49 PM6/13/13
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Nice! Is the ceramic printing head heavy on that moving platform? and how well do your sculptures hold out once you fire them, no cracks?

heyarn

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Jun 13, 2013, 1:44:20 PM6/13/13
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WOW nice ceramic extruder! Where can I get info on how it works? :)

Brandon H

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Jun 13, 2013, 2:07:10 PM6/13/13
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Wow!  That is the cleanest delta I've ever seen, repstrap or not.  I like how the motors at the top stay clear of the mess.

What layer heights and speeds do you do in ceramic?
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Jonathan Keep

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Jun 14, 2013, 4:43:55 AM6/14/13
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What layer heights and speeds do you do in ceramic?
Forgot to answer, I slice at between .5 and .8 mm for layer height depending on the scale of the work. Not sure what the print speed is but the video link on my post is live speed. A mug would take about half an hour to print. Clay shrinks a lot so the print needs to be much bigger than the final glazed object. (Shrinkage about 15% horizontal and 18% vertical)

Jonathan Keep

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Jun 14, 2013, 5:35:53 AM6/14/13
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Print head is heavy, around 800gms but the moving platform has handled it ok so far.
The ceramic stands up well to firing and glazing, very little cracking. Clay shrinks a lot as it dries so there is distortion. 15% horizontal and 18% vertical shrinkage from print to final glazed object. I've tried a number of different clays and all work but some better than others. Interestingly fine clay is not good it dries too slowly. Porcelain works well and I like it as it glaze fires with a pleasing quality. It's the quality of the final thing that I am interested in.

Jonathan Keep

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Jun 14, 2013, 5:44:27 AM6/14/13
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Unfold design studio of Antwerp (http://www.unfold.be/pages/projects) developed the extruder principal that I copied and they have a blog documenting their experiments - see http://unfoldfab.blogspot.co.uk/. I run a web journal with my developments - see http://www.keep-art.co.uk/journal_1.html. Have a look and get back to me if you need more information on the clay extruder.

ezmobius

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Jun 14, 2013, 5:52:22 AM6/14/13
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Very nice work Jonathan! Are the designs or anything written about your paste/clay extruder posted anywhere? I'm trying to decide what kind of paste/ceramic extruder to build to test a new powdered/clayish form of recycled pulverized and powdered borosilicate glass 90% boro 5% binder sekret sauce and 5% ceramic glazes that form a nice material in powder form for laser sintering or a clay like form that I have thrown on a pottery wheel and kiln fired to fuze the glass with good success and now want to build a paste extruder to print with this "glass". 


Looks more like clay then glass but its brown because it is recycled powdered boro of many colors and you always get a brown when mixing most or lots of colors. Fully opaque but same COE as borosilicate and can be flame worked in a torch to melt together and attach to clear normal borosilicate tubing or rod and annealed without cracking apart!

Got any advice for an experienced 3d printer builder but zero paste/clay extrusion yet on which type of paste extruder to build that works best with a ceramic clayish substance?

Thanks
-Ezra

Warren

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Jun 14, 2013, 8:53:26 AM6/14/13
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Wow, that looks like a really nice design.  I like that it requires no printed parts (so, doesn't actually require a printer to make it).  The pulleys on the bottom allow for easy belt length adjustment and tensioning, as the carriages never go toward the bottom of the rails.

Jonathan Keep

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Jun 14, 2013, 5:31:51 PM6/14/13
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Got any advice for an experienced 3d printer builder but zero paste/clay extrusion yet on which type of paste extruder to build that works best with a ceramic clayish substance?
 
Like my printer I have kept my clay print head/extruder very simple.  I began with syringes but now use larger cartridges as used in adhesive guns - see photo below. The clay filled syringes/cartridges are pressurised with compressed air, about 1 to 2 bar. I manually switch on an off the pressure. The rate of flow is controlled by the air pressure. I have stayed with this system as it is easy to set up and actually works pretty well for soft clay. However I have tried it with a glass paste mix and found being more granular it compacts under pressure and does not work. Whether a motor driven plunger would work with glass powder paste I don't know. It would probably  be worth first trying a manual syringe and develop from there. A look through my YouTube videos might help give a better understanding of what I am doing - see http://www.youtube.com/user/jkpottery/videos.
 
Top left: Pressure hose, manual on/off ball valve and air tight twist cap. Top right: Cartridge holder.
Mid top: Plastic cartridge that gets filled with soft clay and assorted tips.
Bottom: 60ml syringes (made into doubles for more clay volume) with hose fitment that offers air tight connector to pressure hose.  
 
 
 

ezmobius

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Jun 15, 2013, 7:01:17 AM6/15/13
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Thanks Jonathan, appreciate it.

-Ezra
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