Now that Shapeways users can 3D print Milky White Matt Glass it is a great time to showcase some works by established artists that use 3D printed glass and ceramics.
One of the leading proponents in the field is Michael Eden whose research entitled "The Hand and the Glove: actual and virtual explorations of the ceramic container" at the Royal College of Art explores the use of additive manufacturing in the context of traditional ceramics making.
"The ceramic container is a form that I am both functionally and aesthetically engaged with. The pots I previously made were designed to drink tea from, to serve food from and to play an accepted role in domestic life.
Alongside the mechanics of the container I have become increasingly occupied with the way in which we perceive the relationship between the container and it’s surrounding space. The aim of this work is to put our perception of things in tension with our conception of them.
Between 2006 and 2008 I undertook an MPhil at the Royal College of Art to concentrate on the development of a new body of work that explores the abstract qualities of the container. I have used a combination of drawing, 3D software, traditional hand skills, and digital technology in the development of this work. The main outcome of the research project is to have brought together revolutionary tools and materials for the first time to create a body of work that explores a new creative language."
Eden's work is a fantastic example of a traditional craftsperson taking their existing knowledge of their craft and using rapid prototyping technologies to produce unique works. This provides him with a huge departure from his existing methods of production but you see that he also keeps to traditional forms.
Now with these processes being available (via Shapeways) to people outside of traditional ceramics and glass background, we are sure to see even more unique forms emerge. Instead of using a new process to make an iteration of an existing norm, radical new directions can be explored by those who can see the materials in new and innovative ways.
I've dabbled around in ceramincs myself, have taken classes, and own a small 1.5 cubic foot kiln. Raw potting clay uses water as a binder, which then is sculpted, dried, and fired in kiln. If greenware (dry clay) were to be ground into a fine powder, one could then use water as a binder to make 3D-printed greenware that can be fired, glazed, and refired to produce a finished ceramic piece. I'm not expert on the subject, but I see no reason the same techniques could not be applied to common potting clay or even fine porcelain.