There have been many clay 3D printers over the years, from the EXtrace and the LUTUM to the 3D PotterBot and the WASP delta style clay 3D printer. But I bet they don’t all come with their own 3D model library, like the user-friendly, desktop ClayXYZ 3D Clay Printer that just launched on Kickstarter. The ClayXYZ printer, named for the ClayXYZ company that’s running the campaign, combines 3D printing technology with reusable, natural clay material so users can create their own detailed, textured ceramic artwork.
Ceramic artist John Fray, the founder and CEO of ClayXYZ, wants ceramics to be available and open to everyone.
Fray said, “When I first started researching, the technology of 3D printing ceramics was an exciting and interesting one. But, the desktop 3D printers on offer were unable to live up expectations. Industrial 3D printers could make that but these would be too costly to produce. So I decided to work with the professional team, spent more than one year designing ClayXYZ, the best desktop clay 3D printer. Our goal of designing ClayXYZ is to want more people to experience the fun of DIY, let more people achieve their own ideas.”
The campaign still has over 50 days left, and has made five times its original funding goal! The ClayXYZ prototype came to fruition a year ago, with the first-generation product and the second-generation product introduced in November of 2016 and January of 2017, respectively. Using the clay 3D printer, anyone can turn their creative ideas into beautiful, artistic reality – lampshades, sculptures, vases, bowls, masks, building models, you name it.
It’s not always easy to print using softer materials like clay – it doesn’t instantly harden like plastic does, and requires a precise, steady machine. But clay can also be reused, which makes it pretty environmentally friendly. The ClayXYZ team also says that its 3D printer is “the most user-friendly desktop 3D printer ever.”
The three-step process for the ClayXYZ 3D printer looks pretty simple:
- Load the clay into the tube, and then connect the tube with the extrusion device.
- Download the model you want to print, either from Thingiverse or the ClayXYZ printer’s own library, start up the slicing software, and get to work setting parameters for fill ratio, thickness, etc.
- Push the start button to send your print order to the 3D printer, and enjoy the creation process of your textured piece of art.
New models are continuously being developed and added, from cups and kettles to bookends and pyramid sculptures; all of them have been tested on the ClayXYZ. Users can also upload models to the ClayXYZ 3D printer and share their ideas with others. You can use different types of ordinary clay, many of which are inexpensive and easily available, to create different styles; air-hardening modeling clay is perfect for all ages, and can be used in the studio or in the classroom, as it doesn’t require any oven baking and can air dry in one day.
ClayXYZ artwork can also be glazed with multiple colors: softly wipe the surface of the dry model with a moist sponge, then smear four to five layers of glaze on the surface of the model; you can also create interesting surface patterns by using different glazes. Once the model has fully air dried, put it in a kiln for firing. Speaking of the kiln, if you decide you want to print out a unique clay cup, it’s safe to drink from once the cup has been fired. You can also improve the performance of the clay by adding additives, such as gypsum powder. If your 3D printed clay piece doesn’t come out exactly the way you were hoping, no worries – you can easily repair it, or if you want to start from scratch, just dissolve it in water and reuse the material to try again!
If you already have an FDM 3D printer, you can still create lovely 3D printed works of clay art – just purchase the ClayXYZ extrusion device. To improve the accuracy of clay 3D printing, the device removes bubbles out of the clay with its special air compressor. The high-precision stepper motor drive extrusion device, together with a solenoid valve and pressure valve, helps the clay pressure stay controlled, so print precision of 0.2 mm is possible, and the extruder’s nozzle has a variety of different diameters. An Arduino Mega2560 makes up the printer’s firmware, and the printer supports Linux, Mac, and Windows. It has Repetier Host print control software, supports STL, IGS, STP, and OBJ model formats, and is compatible with both Cura and Slic3r software.
If you’re interested in ordering your own ClayXYZ 3D printer, the Early Bird price of $749 gets you the printer, the extrusion device, two clay tubes, and a toolkit; if you’re just looking for the extrusion device itself, the Early Bird price of $349 is still available. You can also pledge $29 to receive a Ceramic Baby Gift Package, which comes with a real wood box and five small clay vases. Reward delivery is estimated to be in March of 2018. Discuss in the ClayXYZ forum at 3DPB.com.