Today we are super excited to announce the launch of 3D printed Glazed Ceramics as the latest material available on Shapeways.
Glazed Ceramics is the first food safe material available on Shapeways so it is perfect for any application such as a plate, cup or bowl. Shapeways 3D Printed Glazed Ceramics material properties are exactly the same as standard ceramics as it is produced with fine ceramic powder which is bound together with binder, fired, then glazed with a lead-free, non-toxic gloss finish. The final products have a professional, high gloss white finish that looks simply beautiful.
“Ceramic has always been considered a valuable and durable material in many cultures and, therefore, it means a giant step for 3D printed products. After silver and polished SLS, this is the third material from Shapeways that can easily compete with other manufacturing methods in terms of surface finish, and will therefore be attractive to both designers and consumers.”
Pricing for Glazed Ceramics is based on total surface area at $0.18/cm2 ($1.16 /in2) with no start up costs. This is the first material to use this pricing structure on Shapeways so you will have to rethink the way you design, and calculate costs to suit the material.
The Design Rules for Glazed Ceramics require that your models have a minimum wall thickness of 3mm and minimum details of 2mm. The glazing process can add up to 1mm of thickness to your item so some finer details may be lost or softened. The
max build size for Glazed Ceramics is19 x 23 x 15
cm (7.5 x 9.1 x 5.9 inches)
"Making Pete happy, good coffee from a beautifully designed 3D printed (ceramic) coffee mug!"
Check out the material page for Glazed Ceramics and the Design Rules to ensure that your models are suitable for 3D printing in ceramics. As mentioned above the pricing is based on surface area and as mentioned in the previous blog post, older models may take a while to be available in Glazed Ceramic.
For Shapeways shop owners, Glazed Ceramics will be an opt-in material,
so it will not be automatically added to your items and no mark-up will
be placed on your items for you. This way you have total control over
where it is available in your shop and for what price.
We can't wait to see the new kind of designs this will enable and the new community members it will bring to Shapeways from the fields of craft, sculpture, and ceramicists such as Gregory Bonasera.
"In my practice I specialize in porcelain design and manufacture. It’s extremely important to keep up with current technology in design & manufacturing, this helps us remain relevant & at the cutting edge of ceramic design & manufacture. Really excited about what Shapeways are doing now with Glazed Ceramics"
Ceramics will be available until August 12th, at which point (or before) we will make a decision on whether or not to keep the material based on community feedback. Also please note, Your design is foodsafe only if the parts of your design that will be in contact with food are fully glaze-able. Think of it this way, if we were to spray your design, would the spray get into all the engravings and crevices of the parts touching the food? If so, then yes it is foodsafe!
Look at some awesome designs available in ceramics right now!
I don't know the details of the ceramic build process, but my guess is just sifted porcelain powder in a monochrome Z-Corp. 3D printer. There is no physical reason that you can't put micro-encapsulated mineral pigments into a Spectrum 510 -- except for what they might do to the cheap Hewlett-Packard print heads. They probably wouldn't last long. And really, you need a materials chemist to mix you a set of pigments which will do the right thing during firing. I know from experience that the vendors of the Rapid-Prototyping machines won't even spend the resources to improve 3D colour rendition in their own machines. So, it's up to -- whoever is behind the Shapeways Ceramic service -- to take on this kind of work; To come up with archival materials for color digital sculpture output. I've been producing STL files for digital sculpture since 1989. How can I get involved?
Metal oxides will generally migrate and interact with eachother during firing. So some coloured effects would be acheived, but not necesarily what you would expect! So long as you were happy with that it would be interesting, but printing ceramic full colour photos is unlikely to be happening soon.
I'm not sure that the oxides would be any more abrasive than the ceramic powder, or have I misunderstood the process? Is a layer of powder deposited with the print heads printing binder? If the binder is water based many of the oxides are water soluble and are used in dilute solution so that might be fine.
Some ceramics are food safe but not dishwasher safe. Ther term "safe" here only sometimes refers to toxicity. Other times "safety" refers to the integrity of the product. For example, a ceramic item may not be food safe because the acid from tomatoes will discolour the glaze.
In a lot of cases, dishwasher safety will refer to the safety of the model. There are certain alkalyne detergents used in dishwashers that will affect a glaze by either discolouring it, or "crazing" it.
Crazing means the glaze will crackle. Crazing is not always a bad thing, however. Sometimes it is quite decorative, but in the case of "safety" it is either unsafe because bits of the glaze pop off and be ugly or be swallowed. Or it is unsafe because food gets in the cracks and never leaves, creating a bacterial issue.
I don't know if any of what I have suggested here applies to why Shapeways deemed the ceramics here not safe for the dishwasher though. These are just educated guesses.
When I first read "priced by surface area", I thought... why not? But the more I think about it, the more weird that seems. You are basically charging for any added detail to the model... which defeats the main advantage of 3d printing. Even adding a light texture to an otherwise flat surface could potentially double the surface area.
Hi Christopher, thanks for your feedback and you are right, this has occured to us. However we also want to price as close as possible to our cost to enable us to lower prices as fast as possible. The cost of ceramics is mostly tight (for the glazed version anyhow) to the surface. The more complex, the more work, hence the more expensive.
Currently we are in trial mode and will learn whether we choose wisely or not. We might change it after if we found something better - and we are certainly open for feedback about it!
We are trying to disincentive difficult to glaze pieces yes. Difficult to glaze pieces would be like a really meshy structure with hard to reach crevices. If you have a lot of those crevices (like the foldings of a brain, for instance), you are likely to have a big surface area. Does that make sense? I know it won't 100% cover all the difficult to glaze pieces, but it's a proxy.
Well, one thing that comes to mind is inscriptions. It seems like right now a coffee cup with my name on it (via a lightly raised surface) will cost twice as much as the coffee cup with no name. (Even though the name is much smaller, it's much more curvy). It doesn't seem to me like you guys meant to disincentivize inscribing objects with text.
This is tremendous news Shapeways! Brilliant work Nancy! The potential for ceramics is huge and very exciting. I'm looking forward to trying this material & spreading the word. I really hope you will keep it as a mainstay.
Finally people can stop bothering us with their requests for printing out ceramic parts
congratulations Shapeways on bringing 3d printed ceramics to the mass market!
As to the unglazed parts, I guess Shapeways uses converted Zcorp machines to glue ceramic powder with a binder. All the parts that I have seen so far using this technique are extremely light and porous (think light weight bricks). The parts need a rather thick layer of glaze (1mm is a lot) to be smooth, water tight and ceramic-ish, I guess this is also where the price per surface area comes from.
RE:..what if I want to design a ceramic drinking straw?...I would assume the glaze would only be on the other surface..
...Generally if ceramics are to be used with food or beverages, they need to be sealed with a glaze. This is to prevent microbes from making homes in the coral like recesses of the ceramic body & to prevent minerals found in the clay body from leaching into the food. There are exceptions to this but not many. Most unsealed ceramic vessels are used in applications like gardening, drainage & areas where the porousness of the ceramic is an asset. Although there are porous terracotta cooking vessels that require soaking in water, to use before cooking. On that note it would be good to know what type of ceramic is being used in the printing process & if the binders burn out during firing.
I was wondering if Shapeways has considered 'dipping' the glaze instead of spraying? dipping is one way to get into the nooks and crannies while also coating the insides of the object. you need a resist for the area that will sit on the firing brick in the kiln, but I suspect you are using that already?
Yes, the straw can be dipped. If there are a lot of engravings or crevices, there's no guarantee that even dipping will cover everything. If it is a simple straw that follows the design rules, then it should be glaze-able.
Please also heed the caveats on food safety, and glazing coverage. They are all in the top section of the materials page: http://www.shapeways.com/materials/ceramics
Yes! Finally! I asked for this a loooong time ago. Missed my three guesses at gold, chocolate and ham but I'm way pleased.... Not sure about the pricing method which now makes us designers think about NOT putting surface detail in - haha - but I think I can work with that.
And in reading the previous Blog entry I'm now confused about what you are asking for in terms of hollow models. Do you prefer hollow models with NO escape hole for ceramics? Presumably so, since a hollow model with hole would have twice as much surface to glaze (inside and out??)
Hey Glenn, hollow models need escape. Holes are recommended to be at least 10-15mm in diameter. Also, please be aware, there is a maximum wall thickness of 15 mm. This is so there's not a big temperature differential between the part closer to the surface and the part further away from the surface. Big temperature differentials can lead to the ceramics cracking. What that means is a big solid brick would be a no no.
And I just did a small test on the same model hollowed and not hollowed... the not hollowed was cheaper, although not by a lot. A solid model cost $9.81, the same model hollowed cost $10.38.
The same models in SWF cost $20.22 for solid and $19.02 hollowed. So, it seems we now have to design models with NO surface details AND solid - the complete opposite to what I have been trying to do for many months. Not complaining, though! Just pointing info out.
What is the particular ceramic? I am especially interested in its thermal (C.O.E., maximum temperature, specific heat) and mechanical (density, tensile strength, fracture toughness) properties throughout its operating temperature range.
This is great. As Ian has, I've been using 3d printing from shapeways for ceramic forms. I've been using mine as push/press molds.
So I'm wondering...
Is this process a one step firing? Do you add the glaze directly to the greenware and then fire once?
Or is it a normal two step firing, where you bisque fire the greenware since glaze adheres better to bisqued ware? And then spray the glaze onto the bisqued item, followed by a glaze firing?
If it is two step, and you do create a bisqued piece in the first firing - would you consider sending the (hopefully less expensive) bisqued unglazed pieces to those of us who are potters/ceramicists/clay artists so we can glaze them with our own glazes and secondary firing techniques?
The benefit of this to clay artists is that it should be cheaper (shapeways not having to apply glaze or fire a second time) giving us more movement room for craft show profit. It also allows us to add our own underglazes and glazes and use our own firing techniques.
Hi Ian, I wouldn't say much more delicate, as bisque ware is often shipped all over the earth as we know it. And again, it would depend on the piece right? Something with a lot of long 3mm bits might not make it in bisque or final glazed version. We'll have to see how tis works out.
Now, I'm assuming that this powder is porcelain or at least something stoneware. Perhaps an earthenware powder might be dodgy, because I don't have much experience with earthenware - only stoneware.
Info (***not for Ian, because I know you know this buddy***) - what I am talking about Shapeways people is not greenware. Greenware is what results immediately after printing. I'm talking about Bisque ware - this is what results from one firing at a lower temperature. A Bisque firing is done to have a durable piece that accepts glaze well. This is usually followed by a higher temperature glaze firing in order to melt the glaze properly.
Fair point, I kind of got the impression that this didn't quite have the integrity of conventionally produced ceramics, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. Certainly my slip cast porcelain pieces feel delicate at bisque, whereas when fully fired unglazed they are pretty much unbreakable unless you drop them onto a tiled floor. But I've never actually tried to break them . . .
I was excited to hear you say this because what I had seen on the materials page was drying, glazing and firing. So I looked deeper to see what you've seen and found that it's explained like this: printing, drying, firing to high temperature, spraying with pre-glaze to make smooth and low fired, followed by a real glaze spraying and a final firing - 3 firings! How strange, but I understand they wnat to make it smooth.
"...didn't quite have the integrity of conventionally produced ceramics..."
Yes, now ... I might be retracting my statements. I had forgotten about the binder that assumedly burns off leaving the structure porous at bisque... It might be kind of like paperclay, which is stronger when it's green than other clays. However, I have no idea what the bisque state of paperclay is like.
I have seen some unglazed samples of ceramics printed in Zcorp machines (pretty sure this is what Shapeways uses) and they are deffenitly too fragile to ship. If you have ever printed on a Zcorp with the standard plaster gypsum material, you know that it is also very fragile and you need to infuse it with resin to get a strong shape. The ceramics is the same, because you glue loosely compacted clay powder with a binder, the greenware result is very porous and very light. The glaze is essential for the final result, think of the ceramic print more as a matrix for the glaze, that's why a rather thick layer is added (up to 1 mm!).
So if SW managed to ship bisque fired items you will need to be aware that the characteristics are very different than those of your thrown, modeled or slipcase items.
While we can't print such a wide variety of models with the clay extruder we use on a RepRap because of all the limitations in overhangs etc, we extrude standard porcelain clay and 3d print models resembling a miniature coiling process. So this technique generated models from compacted clay and the porcelain ones are water tight even without any glaze applied. http://unfold.be/pages/projects/items/3d-printer (need to update, you can also check the blog at unfoldfab.blogspot.com)
Anyway, very exciting and uploading some models that we can't print to test on the SW service.
This is directly from the materials page about ceramics Unfold - the model is high fired before the glaze is added. So the structure should be quite sound for shipping at this point:
Step 1. 3D Printing, it takes about 4 hrs to print a 4 inch piece. During this step, binder is deposited on a bed of ceramic powder. After one layer is done, a new layer of ceramic powder is spread on top and binder is again deposited on that layer.
Step 2. After all the layers are printed, the box of ceramic powder is then put in an oven to dry, the models in the box solidify during this process.
Step 3. After the models solidify, the models are taken out out of the box and depowdered. During this stage, the models are solid but in a brittle, fragile state.
Step 4. Afterwards, the models are fired in a kilm with a "high fire." This firing will lock in the structure of the model. After this step, a base model is created. The surface finish is very rough.
Step 5. Pre-glaze coating spray, a water based spray, is then applied. Then the models are fired away in a kiln at a lower temperature. Afterwards, the model is a bit more smooth and ready for glazing.
Step 6. The glaze spray is applied, and the models are again fired in the kiln. After this process, the model becomes shiny and smooth.
Hey guys, sorry I need to run out for dinner in a bit. The structures are indeed shippable between stages. Currently, we decided to opt for glaze only because the finishing for the other pieces are very rough (doesn't have to do with shippability), and isn't very commercially appealing--also the pricing would probably be close to the glaze because we still need to spray on the pre-glaze. We will look into this and refine for later releases.
Uploaded and ordered a Utah Teapot
Lets see what happens, looking forward to the results!
Its a slightly smaller version of our Utanalog by Unfold teapot adjusted with a thicker wall:
I would definitely like to see an option for unglazed pieces. As someone who owns a small electric kiln and has studied ceramics as a student, it would be nice to have the option to apply commonly available commercial glazes to the piece to create our own colorful effects and designs. There is actually a pottery house in my home city that provides bisqueware for people to paint and decorate themselves, so I can certainly see a demand for this being available on shapeways, especially with so many artists in the community. Perhaps you could have an option to ship the ceramics after firing the pre-glaze.
I would also like to know what cone ranges (kiln temperatures) the 3D-printed ceramic can safely be fired to, as I may want at some point to do some experiments.
Accuracy is within a 2.5% margin, though also be aware that the glaze may add up to 1 mm of wall in certain areas (mostly crevices). You can see our complete design rules here: http://www.shapeways.com/design-rules/ceramics