Showing posts with label graham hay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graham hay. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2012

3D PRINTING IN PERTH CIT, a continuing story.

Left an early trial 3D print in clay (unfired) , right, a plastic 'raft' printed by 3D printer

The blogging mojo has been absent in the past couple of weeks due to plain busyness, and yet, of course, so much has been going on in my world.  For one thing teaching at CIT ceramics department has been a wonderful challenge and I am loving being part of the place.  The students are a great bunch and often surprise themselves when they dredge up a previously unknown resourcefulness or ability to put into their clay work.  I loaded a kiln last week full of their handmade teapots and boxes, we are moving onto Wall Art now and making simple drop moulds to replicate their  forms with. 

Meanwhile Graham Hay continues with his residency at CIT and tweaks and twiddles with the 3D printer CIT recently purchased.  It came in kit form and took a while to build. I imagine a ready made one would have cost a lot more given how many man hours went into building it.  The 3D printer was designed to print with a low temperature meltable plastic, this is fed into the printer from what looks like a roll of cable – but the cable is in fact the plastic consumable it prints with. 

In normal parlance the concept of printing entails the laying down of an ‘ink’ of some kind onto a flat substrate – usually paper.  The ink sits on the substrate and dries whether it is a screen print or an inkjet or laserjet of text or images.  Sometimes an ink or paint is printed where we can see and feel the change in surface where the ink sits upon the surface. 

In the case of 3D we are printing but layer upon layer and building upwards from the horizontal plane into a 3D form instead of across a flat 2D surface. 

There were weeks of calibrating our 3D printer and once that was done the hard part now starts.  Now the development of a suitable clay body is underway, one that will pipe through the printer under gentle hydraulic pressure – there is a large pressurised air pump attached.  So as well as the 3D printer a source of compressed air plus a computer are required to make anything happen.  The printed/extruded/piped clay mustn’t be too liquid or it will flop and flow, but must be soft enough to extrude and sit upon itself to build up layer upon layer to create a 3D form. 

I am assuming that you dear reader are smart enough to ‘get it’ if I threw in some hi tech terminology, I am putting this all into my own ‘laymans terms’ to try to explain it. 

So the printed clay, think of a coil pot but the printer is placing the mini ‘coils’, has to hold itself up and take weight while the printer head moves around the form laying down the clay – as directed by the computer.  Personally I find this whole subject completely fascinating.  I love modern technology and materials and I literally lie in bed at night thinking of what the printer might make and what might make the perfect clay composition to work best.  

Here is a short clip of me asking Graham about the printer.

There have been lots of trials and observations of the result of each tweak and change.  Graham lays out the tangible evidence of each test print in sequence on the long table at his station in the ceramics area to be handled and noted, prompting enthusiastic interest and discussion. 

 More – as it happens! 

Now, although I have missed the Mud Colony deadline – let’s hop over there anyhow and see what the other clay bloggers have been doing.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


What comes in a box and takes weeks for two grown men to assemble?  Answer? A 3D printer and it is soooooo exciting.  It feels like Christmas has arrived in the Central Institute of Technology in Perth in the Ceramics Dept. as the hotly anticipated piece of equipment has been slowly, carefully unpacked and so methodically assembled you would think that we had a bomb disposal team in the tech room.  In fact the team is Engineering student Robert Vinkovic and the renowned artist Graham Hay - he of the Paper Clay Guru title and pretty famously (among potters) of the encyclopaedic website on the subject.  Graham is good fun, very smart and he brings in fabulous cake - obviously he is very welcome.  CIT Ceramics Dept is a pretty exciting place to be right now.  This is a topic I will revisit regularly on this blog from here on.

To be honest, there is a sense of boys with Meccano kind of glee about the place but underlying that is a serious intent to get the 3D printer up and running as soon as we can.  I know I haven't shared much about my own experience as the current Artist In Residence there - honestly, I am just having too good a time trying out and testing stuff and getting things off my to do list!  Very soon Graham will be heading off to the US to teach a series of sell-out workshops and, on his return he will be the Artist in Residence at CIT Ceramics Department in about August 2012 and using a 3D printer the topic he will be exploring.
Andrea and Robert Vinkovic

 Robert Vinkovic and Graham Hay making a brilliant team. 

This printer will have the capability of printing its own 3D spare parts.  I have read a bit about 3D printers, particularly on sites like Design Boom and the like, and I think I understand the general concept, have seen videos demonstrating the principles and it is a tad well, mind-blowing.  I mentioned all of this to Gosia, at a party last night, having just explained that I am a potter, and she said 'Oh my dentist uses that kind of technology'.  WOW.  It seems her Perth dentist can generate veneers in a matter of an hour using a 3D printer of some kind.  How great to hear of such a useful application for the technology.
Excited?  We are!  As the daughter of an electronics engineer and wife of a mechanical engineer I am really enjoying the buzz of being in on all of this.  I'd love to be able to call my Dad if he was still alive and tell him about what is going on, and he'd understand every aspect and be avid for updates.

If you are interested, the details of the brand and build of the 3D printer we have at CIT is here ...
Now please hop on over to to find out more of what is happening in the clay world in general via several other clay bloggers.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I came upon the work of Swedish ceramic artist Marianne Hallberg through a mention on Graham Hay's FaceBook page .  I love this work, playful and quirky, seemingly 'simple' but, really, NOT.