Solid free-form fabrication in fired ceramic as a design aid for concept modelling in the ceramic industry

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Fac Creative Arts, Humanities & Education

Abstract

This proposal is for a follow on project for research developed from the AHRC funded three-year research project 'The Fabrication of Three Dimensional Art and Craft Artefacts through Virtual Digital Construction and Output.' One of the goals of the project was to move 3D printing from making replica prototypes to creating actual objects in ceramics. The investigators Huson and Hoskins developed a patented ceramic material consisting of a 3D printable ceramic body. Taking the concept of rapid prototyping from modelling in plaster or plastic, through to designing, printing, firing and glazing a finished item in a ceramic body. Huson and Hoskins are currently at the forefront of these developments as testified by the interest from the following, companies Z Corporation (ZCorp), Johnson Matthey PLC, Viridis LLC and Denby Retail Ltd (Denby), all of whom are interested in pursuing research developed from this project. In this instance the research team propose to work in partnership with Denby on an innovative project that extends the patented results developed in the above research. Denby are one of the UK's best known and longest surviving ceramic tableware manufacturers. Founded in 1806 they are best known for their high quality oven-to-tableware and their innovate glazing technology. Denby control all aspects of their manufacture in-house from concept to completion. They are already experienced users of both 3D design software for ceramics and the Zcorp 3D printing systems (also used by the research team) for plaster and plastic prototypes. Any testing and development regime in the proposed project will not be hampered by problems of using unfamiliar technology. The ability to print directly in a compatible ceramic material that could be rapidly glazed and decorated would be a quantum leap in this process for Denby. This project is to undertake a feasibility study to prove the viability of 3D printed ceramic bodies as a design tool for concept modelling of tableware, the researchers need to develop an understanding of both the design considerations required for commercial ceramics and the particular constraints inherent in producing 3D printed ceramic tableware. In order to produce larger items, the design of the physical sectional profile of ceramic articles for 3D printing needs to move forward from that found in conventional ceramics. This research will identify through iteration and development with Denby's designers what form that profile needs to take in relation to a conventional robustly constructed commercial ceramic artefact. Further to the construction of the ceramics there is a need to use ceramic firing supports and their advantages in the production of one off ceramic design concept models. Once a ceramic 3D printed object can be created and fired without losing its shape in the firing. Outcomes of the project will include a small number of invited artists and postgraduate students making bespoke one-off pieces in collaboration with UWE and Denby. The works will be developed at two seminar/workshop days and will demonstrate the potential of the process. The results will be written up and published as case studies. Other outcomes will include conference papers and a journal article. All results will also be published on the CFPR website.

Publications

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Hoskins S (2012) 3D Printing in Clay in Ceramic Review

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Hoskins S The digital physical artefact: A case study for digital engagement in the creative industries in Digital Engagement 2011 (the Digital Economy All Hands Meeting)

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Hoskins S (2012) Towards a New Ceramic Future in Towards a New Ceramic Future

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Hoskins S The Evolution of a Sugar Bowl in RAPID 2012

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Huson D A (2012) Solid free-form fabrication of ceramics as a design aid for concept modelling in NIP28/Digital Fabrication 2012 Technical Program and Proceedings

 
Title Bristol Teacup 
Description 3D printed pierced, double-walled teacup in UWE patented ceramic material designed by Peter Ting 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact The Bristol Teacup was exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design, New York 
URL http://www.uwe.ac.uk/sca/research/cfpr/research/3D/research_projects/Solidfreeform_casestudies_peter...
 
Title Denby Cup 
Description Professor Stephen Hoskins and David Huson embarked upon a collaborative project with designers at Denby Pottery to investigate the use UWE's newly developed ceramic 3D printing process for the production of concept models for ceramic new product development. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This case study demonstrates that ceramic 3D printing may be employed to fabricate an item of shape and section thickness that is the same or similar to that of a typical mass-produced piece. The problem of maintaining the shape of the delicate handle section was overcome through the use of an additional setter to support the handle during firing. Denby anticipate that a similar approach could be adopted in future for other delicate items with vulnerable features, enabling them to be fabricated by ceramic 3D printing and then successfully fired. 
URL http://www.uwe.ac.uk/sca/research/cfpr/research/3D/research_projects/Solidfreeform_casestudies_denby...
 
Description A new method of 3D printing concept models in ceramic materials that are capable of being fired glazed and decorated for industrial prototyping was developed as specified in the grant.



A survey of current 3d printing practice by commercial ceramic companies took place, with the team travelling to both Europe and the USA. It became clear that in-house 3D printing was not a standard tool for ceramic companies, with particular expertise held by Denby in the UK and Costa Verde in Portugal.



The team investigated a number of support structures and with the help of Denby's commercial testing regimes, developed a methodology and practical regime for building support structures (known in the industry as Setters) to support the printed items during firing. To do this the team had to investigate a range of profile (wall thickness settings) in order to ascertain the optimum settings that would allow the object to maintain a profile when fired on a support without the profile being to thick or clumsy when compared to the equivalent object made by conventional means. The setters are printed at the same time as the object and have enabled a greater range of shapes and detail to be produced than was previously possible before using setters. The setters and profile setters were further refined to allow for more complex shapes such as delicate handles to be supported through the case study exemplars.



Denby in collaboration with the CFPR have also developed a method of dipping the printed objects into slip after the 1st (biscuit firing) thus enabling them to glaze the object with Denby's own very special range of glazes. The team have further developed this method and created a range of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain slips. Thus enabling any common craft ceramic process and glazing to be replicated.



A series of case studies were developed with designers and postgraduate students to test the design constraints and parameters of the new material. These have formed the basis of an online exhibition, where the case studies and examples. The team also presented their findings at the Victoria and Albert Museum through a Symposium "Towards a new ceramic future" This event organised by the team as part of the grant was attended by 100 delegates who were a mix of designer makers, manufacturing industry and HEI's in approximately equal proportions.



The case studies form exemplars for the potential of producing short run bespoke ceramic designer items. In particular Peter Ting (Designer for Aspreys and Thomas Goode) as a high profile designer was particularly excited by the project and produced designs specifically to test the parameters of the process and highlight its capabilities. The work of the two invited students from the Royal College of Art demonstrated the design constraints and potential limitations of the process, these were solved in the final pieces but it is clear that the biggest limitation is that not all shapes can automatically be reproduced by the process. This is also true of any other manufacturing process.
Exploitation Route An outcome of the previous AHRC grant was to produce a printable ceramic powder, this was further developed during the grant and has been licensed to Viridis 3D LLC a Boston based company. This product was primarily designed for use by commercial companies such as Denby and to this end the grant holders have had discussions with Dudsons and Steelite (the 2 largest UK manufacturers of ceramic tableware), both of whom wish to use this method. We also visited Capa Verde in Portugal and porcelain prototypes have been created specifically for them using their own in-house files. The ceramic powder will be available to individual designer craftspeople, industry, education and other users and the test cases, we feel the test cases demonstrate the breadth of design capability of 3D printed ceramics. The team attended several trade fairs to further survey the field for 3D printed ceramics, but also promote the commercial potential of our research. These were 'A New ceramics' in Stoke on Trent, 'Business Industry and Skills manufacturing summit', February 2012 Bristol Science Park and Ceramic Network 2011 at the Esther Technopole in Limoge France in October 2011, a European meeting for Technical ceramics. These visits resulted in several industrial connections and potential future research.





The 3D printing process using the ceramic powder has generated much international and cross sector interest and consultancy. The team are now the world leaders in a printable commercial ceramic material and to this end have been undertaking contract work for Johnson Matthey Noble Metals, have been invited by the Ministry of Defence to submit a bid for collaborate on innovative blue sky future technologies research. The team are discussing further collaborative research with 'A1 technologies' on a 3D printer for schools, which is capable of printing ceramics.

Further collaborations are in discussion with Bristol University for ceramic composites using printed ceramic lattice structures that are only possible using 3D printing. At a recent American industry Conference 'Rapid 2012" The Centre for Fine Print Research' were cited in an industry round-up as the leaders in the field of a commercial ceramic 3D printing process. A patent for a 3D printable ceramic fuel cell that coverts effluent into electricity, is in process as part of a collaboration between the Centre for Fine Print Research and Bristol Robotics Laboratory. Discussions have taken place with BAE systems over novel methods of 3D printing ceramics as part of their aerospace manufacturing processes.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education

URL http://www.uwe.ac.uk/sca/research/cfpr/research/3D/research_projects/solid_free_form.html
 
Description The primary aim of the project 'Solid free-form fabrication in fired ceramic as a design aid for concept modelling in the ceramic industry' was to prove the commercial viability of 3D printed ceramic bodies as a design tool for concept modelling of tableware and whiteware for the ceramic industry. A further aim was to investigate ceramic firing supports and their advantages in the production of one-off ceramic design concept models. We collaborated with designers from Denby Pottery, using both existing production shapes and concept model designs to develop a method of producing 3D printed and fired ceramic concept models. We explored the design considerations and physical and material constraints for shape and form to suit the 3D printed body. We developed custom supports and profile settings in order to fire complex ceramic items. We proved the viability of using the powder binder process to produce 3DP ceramic artworks. A selection of 3D printed, fired and glazed artefacts from the project case studies were produced as a 3D printed edition to illustrate the possibilities of the project outcomes. This edition has been bought by leading national and international museums, galleries and arts funding councils including: Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Arts and Humanities Research Council The Victoria & Albert Museum The Museum of Art and Design in New York The collaboration with Denby assisted in increasing competitiveness of this historic Victorian pottery, and introduced new technologies to the traditional process without losing its core values and its unique craft skills. The results of this project were used on collaborative research with the Bristol Robotics Lab into ceramic fuel cells.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Burleigh Ceramics, Burgess, Dorling and Leigh 
Organisation Burleigh Pottery
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration with Burleigh to assist in increasing competitiveness of this historic Victorian pottery, and introduce new technologies to the traditional process without losing its core values and its unique craft skills.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Johnson Matthey Noble Metals 
Organisation Johnson Matthey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Direct contract consultancy for 3D printed ceramic research
Start Year 2011
 
Description Renishaw 
Organisation Renishaw PLC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution KTP 3 year award as a result of the CFPR expertise in additive manufacturing in the creative economy
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Denby Pottery Co Ltd 
Organisation The Denby Pottery Co Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Project partner
Start Year 2011
 
Description Viridis LLC 
Organisation Viridis LLC
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaboration to commercialise our research
Start Year 2011
 
Description collaboration with Bristol Robotics Laboratory 
Organisation Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ceramic Fuel Research project
Start Year 2012
 
Description collaboration with Bristol Robotics Laboratory 
Organisation Collaborative Laboratory Services
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Ceramic Fuel Research project
Start Year 2012
 
Description collaboration with Bristol Robotics Laboratory 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ceramic Fuel Research project
Start Year 2012
 
Description collaboration with Bristol Robotics Laboratory 
Organisation University of the West of England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ceramic Fuel Research project
Start Year 2012
 
Title 3D printable ceramic material 
Description A porcelain type ceramic powder material capable of being 3D printed by a ZCorp Powder and inkjet binder printer. The team developed this material capable of being used for printing domestic tableware and artefact fired to 1200 degrees celsius. 
IP Reference WO2011154732 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2011
Licensed Yes
Impact no
 
Description 3D digital technologies public demonstration at the At-Bristol Science Centre, Bristol, 8 - 9 April 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 2 Day presentation and series of talks at @Bristol the Science and Technology Centre in Bristol (now called, We are the Curious). Attended by a large general public audience with a complete range of abilities from small children through to informed professionals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Towards a new ceramic future 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This symposium at the Victoria and Albert Musuem brought together leading experts in the field of 3D printed ceramics to disseminate recent research findings, share knowledge, and to discuss scope for future developments. The event presented results of the AHRC funded project Solid Free-Form Fabrication in Fired Ceramic.


On-line exhibition of artefacts and case studies by leading experts in the field of 3D printed ceramics working with CFPR the exhibition includes new works by, Peter Ting, Stephen Hoskins, David Huson, Peter Walters, Gary Hawley and Tom Allen of Denby Potteries and students from the Royal College of Art.

permenently archived in CFPR archive and available on the CFPR website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.uwe.ac.uk/sca/research/cfpr/research/3D/research_projects/solid_free_form.html