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Intentional imperfection: 3D printed ceramic art blurs lines between man and machine – 3ders.org (blog)

by • March 13, 2016 • No Comments

Mar 14, 2016 | By Kira
German turn it into student Steffen Hartwig has made a series of attractively organic and functional 3D printed ceramics via a self-turn it intoed ceramic 3D printing device, extruder, and software system. Whilst many manufactures it to in ceramic 3D printing nowadays are focutilized on creating stronger, extra
technically exact objects than what was previously possible to manufacture by hand, Hartwig’s work stands apart. But functional and machine-made, the 3D printed pieces are imbued with intentional imperfections, resulting in ambiguous yet attractive artifacts which carry the trace of ceramic’s handcrafted roots.

To turn it into them, Hartwig began with parametric turn it into—an algorithmic system many frequently utilized in the meticulous fields of architecture or mechanical engineering. Yet pretty than attempting to ‘optimize’ ceramic to industrial standards, he embraces its organic material properties and labor-intensive workflow. These seemingly opposing aspects bring a sense of ‘digital unpredictability’ to functional ceramic 3D printing. The resulting vases, bowls, mugs, candleholders and sculptures are captivating, and reveal new possibilities in 3D printing as an artisanal tool.
3Ders.org spoke with Hartwig to learn how he utilized ceramic 3D printing as the topic of his BA thesis to explore the boundaries between man and machine, and to bring traditional craftsmanship ethics into digital 3D fabrication.

3Ders.org: Please tell us a bit of yourself—where did you go to school, and how did you get into visual arts and 3D printing?
Steffen Hartwig: My name is Steffen, I grew up in the countryside of Western Germany. I have always been fascinated by the attractive things which can emerge of innovation, yet I felt which serious engineering is too constrained by its own rules, so I went for turn it into instead. I studied Communication Design at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. I started with generative programming and moved of the screen to physical drawing machines. By adding a third dimension I ended up with 3D printing ceramics in my bachelor project.
Is there a recurring theme in your artwork?
Most of my projects are a fewwhere at the intersection of the digital and physical world. I’m fascinated by the secret life of machines, especially parametric and generative systems. But instead of working only for the screen I try to bring these virtual concepts to domains which seem to be reserved for guide human work.
Aesthetically, I am driven by the beauty and new things which emerge of imperfections, errors or randomness.

Why did you select ceramic 3D printing as the focus for your BA project?
I started to buy vintage ceramics of flea markets a few years ago and which grew to a kind of an obsession. Furtherextra
, ceramics are one of the oldest materials utilized by mankind and nowadays pottery yet embodies traditional craftsmanship and is frequently positioned far away of modern innovation. I really like the thought of a machine doing studio pottery and creating one-of-a-kind objects in a slow and imperfect manner.
With no prior knowledge and no experience with the traditional tools and systemes, I tried to turn it into artifacts which naturally emerge of the properties of the material and the printing device.
Tell us of the Keramikfreund 3D printing device you made for his project.
The name “Keramikfreund” is a compound of “ceramics” and “friend” and can be read as “a friend of ceramics” or “a ceramic friend”.
The hardware is self-turn it intoed, but inspired by the many DIY delta printing devices which may already exist. The construction is really easy, based on widely on the market components and easily machinable materials. The printing device does not provide excellent precision but is optimized for other requirements I had to conquer: a massive printing area of 30 x 30 x 50 cm, strong motors and strong construction for moving and accelerating the heavy extruder filled with clay. All the electronics are on the top and far away of the mess on the bed.

The electronics are based on an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS board. The firmware is a custom mash-up and manyly based on Marlin and Repetier with extra
showcases for controlling the valves and compensating the fill level via dynamic valve switching timings to complete clean starting and stopping of the extrusion.
The extruder itself is powered by pressurized air and was turn it intoed of scratch. I closely cooperated with my friend Daniel Wilkens, who experimented with 3D printing cakes at which time. Since extruding dough and extruding clay is really much like, we faced the same problems and shared our experiences and thoughts. So we assisted each other to create the custom extruders.
Can you walk us through the turn it into, 3D printing and post-systeming of a finished ceramic piece?
Most of the objects were parametrically created in OpenSCAD or Grasshopper. For generating the G-code I began with a adjusted model of Slic3er, but it is actually really hard to complete things like extruding in one point for a while or printing unassisted, free falling material there, so I started to generate the G-code directly in grasshopper.
The ceramic material, be it porcelain or stoneware, comes as a solid material and is diluted with water to get the right consistency. The harder the clay, the extra
pressure is needed to extrude it through the nozzle, but I tend to remain under 2-bar pressure. At this point I can print reasonably sizeable objects, but the clay is yet soft adequate to move in an organic manner.

A easy mug is done in 10 to 15 minutes, a bigger bowl can take up to an hour. More hard sculptures can take actually longer and significant parts may be stabilized with a heat gun in the printing system.
After 3D printing the objects are treated as any handmade pottery. They dry for a few days and so get bisque fired in the electric kiln. After which they are glazed by hand and fired a 2nd time at up to 1250°C. As you can see, this 3D printing device is a tool yet deeply embedded in traditional workflow and far away of optimizing, accelerating of industrializing the whole system.

Can you describe a few of the functional 3D printed ceramics you have made?
The inspiration for the shapes comes of things I see in daily life: be it technical objects or brutalist architecture. But the final shape always emerges of a dialogue with the material and the printing device.
Conventional round bowls tend to deform or collapse; a cylinder is way extra
stable. Since I have no assist material and yet wanted to print hemispherical bowls, I had to turn it into a shape which may assist itself. The results are objects which boldly show off their construction. […] Whilst these shapes practuallyt the material of falling uncontrollably, other pieces especially emphasize this erratic behavior.
The looped vases are perfectly waterproof and functional, but are decorated with printing errors. Freely falling material created the loops on the outside and hence each vase and each loop is various.

Today, Hartwig is completing his Master’s in Visual Communication in Berlin, and we appear forward to seeing what this genre-bending 3D print artist can come up with future.

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