Over the past several years, the number of materials it’s possible to 3D print with has exploded. Here’s one we’ve not come across before, though — clay.
This addition to the 3D-printing universe is thanks to the arrival of ClayXYZ, an innovative new additive manufacturing tool for the sculpture and pottery set. Allowing you to create anything from intricate vases and bowls to masks and models, it’s a great idea — and something any self-respecting maker is going to want to add to their home studio.
“ClayXYZ is a user-friendly desktop clay 3D printer for everyone,” a spokesperson for the campaign told Digital Trends. “It will bring your remarkable design to real-life objects. No matter what you are designing, from building models, vases, cups, bowls, lampshades, sculptures, to even musical instruments, ClayXYZ can help you realize all of them. Just load the clay, download the model, and start.” (Its creators have helpfully created a range of freely-available models users will be able to test out.)
There are a few particularly neat things about the promise of this 3D printer. One is the fact that it uses basic modeling clay, which makes it incredibly easy to find suitable printing material for.
Another is the intricacy with which it’s possible to print. Precision for the printer’s XY axis is 15 microns, while the Z axis is 5 microns, and the nozzle layer precision is between 0.2 and 0.8mm. These figures may not blow your mind if you’re used to 3D printing, but anyone who has tried traditional pottery will know that it can be very tough to add the level of detail you want. That’s not the case with ClayXYZ, where you’ll be able to print objects with a level of detail it would be very tough for all but the most seasoned pottery experts to achieve through traditional means.
The other nifty part is reusability. Provided you haven’t baked your finished piece in a kiln, the malleability of clay means you can simply add water and reuse the material. That applies whether you want to reprint the whole thing, or just make slight alterations to your printed model. Then, once you’re happy with the final piece, just fire and glaze it as you would do with any other piece of pottery.
ClayXYZ is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. If you’re interested in getting your hands on a finished unit you can place a pre-order, with prices starting at $699. Shipping is set to take place in March 2018.