Clay 3D Printer Keeps It Simple

Clay 3D Printer

Artist [Jonathan] has built a 3D printer specifically for printing in clay. The part count is kept to a minimum and the printer was designed to be made with basic tools and beginner skills. The intent was to not require access to a plastic 3D printer in order to build this printer. Although this build’s goal was clay printing, the extruder could certainly be swapped out for a typical plastic printer version.

This Delta uses quite a bit of MDF. The top and bottom plates are MDF, as are the bearing carriages and extruder mount plate. 12mm rods are solely responsible for the support between the top and bottoms plates as well providing a surface for the LM12UU linear bearings. These bearings are zip tied to the MDF bearing carriages. The 6 arms that support the extruder mount plate are made from aluminum tubing and Traxxas RC car rod-ends. NEMA17 motors and GT2 belts and pulleys are the method used to move the machine around.

Getting the clay to dispense was a tricky task. Parts scavenged from a pneumatic dispensing gun was used. If you are unfamiliar with this type of tool, think: Power Caulk Gun. Clay is fed into the re-fillable syringes and an air compressor provides the 30 psi required to force the clay out of the nozzle. The pressure alone controls the rate of clay flow so it is a little finicky to get the extrusion rate correct. Depending on the size of the final sculpture, 1 to 2mm diameter nozzles could be used. For larger work, 1mm layer height works well. For the smaller pieces, 0.5mm is the preferred layer height.

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Repurposing a ceiling fan into a pottery wheel

Pottery wheel

The wheel goes round and round as does [Lou Wozniak]. He’s come back to us, this time hacking together a pottery wheel from a cheap ceiling fan. This is a great use for a discarded or inexpensive fan and the build should cost less than $50. As you watch the video you learn that repurposing the ceiling fan was no simple feat. Lucky for us [Lou] spins through detailed construction procedures and doesn’t fail to cover every tip and trick. He really does think outside the box or should we say inside the bucket and peanut butter jar. The fan gets dismantled as well as rewired inside a 5 gallon bucket which is used as the pottery wheel housing and stand. A plastic peanut butter jar was used as a makeshift electrical junction box inside the bucket. He remounted the motor’s string operated speed switch on the side of the jar and routed the pull string out the side of the bucket. The fan motor should have three or four switch speed settings which might be enough control. If continuous variable speed control is desired he could add in a controller similar to [Ben Krasnow's] AC controller using one pin on a microcontrollerUPDATE: [AKA the A] tells us in a comment below that this controller won’t work with a ceiling fan, but we still really like [Ben's] project so we’re leaving this link here.

Most potters use significant amounts of water to wet the clay while they throw, so we have reservations about having the high voltages and open motor design directly under the wheel with no shielding. We know [Lou] could easily hack in a splash pan and of course always plug into a ground fault protected receptacle when using electrical appliances around water.

We do get to see the wheel in operation at the end of the video, which you can watch after the break. However, [Lou] makes no claims at being a pottery artisan.

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Build your own backyard pizza oven


Don’t heat up your house this summer, build your own backyard pizza oven instead. We love to using our garden produce, homemade dough, and fresh farmer’s market mozzarella to whip up a tasty pie in the summer. But it can be tricky to cook it on the grill and we hate heating up the oven when it’s hot out. This could be a perfect solution.

The footprint of the oven used to be a flower bed in [Furiousbal's] yard. He removed the soil and side walls, laid down a bed of pea gravel, then started building the brick base for the oven. The base is insulated by encasing beer bottles in a bed of clay which he harvested locally. Fire brick then makes the floor of the cooking area as well as the arched opening. To support the clay during construction he built a dome of wet sand and covered it with damp newspaper. The clay is built up in layers before removing the sand from the inside. The final step (not shown above) is to build a little shelter to ensure the elements don’t wash away your hard work.

Of course you need to build your own fire inside to use it. If that’s too much work perhaps you should try solar cooking?

[via Reddit]

Help us decide, should this project gone on LIFE.hackaday?

Sculpting clay with sound

A group of students at the University of Dundee have created this interesting prototype called Sound Sculpted. The goal was to sculpt clay using sound files drive the sculpting arms. Ideally, you would end up with pieces of art that were unique to each piece of music. As you can see in the video (after the break), they did a pretty good job of building this thing and getting the arms to respond to the music. It is almost hypnotizing to watch.

We can’t help but notice that there is a bit of a design issue. Since the 4 arms are fixed vertically, and the clay spins on the same axis they are able to move on, your variation will be very limited. We think this doesn’t detract from the project, but does offer a large area for improvement.

How would you change the sculpting arms or their motion to make each piece more unique?

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Oogoo, a home-made Sugru substitute

If you follow, it might seem like every third article lately is about Sugru, the nifty air-drying silicone putty that’s good for all manner of repairs and custom parts. It’s fantastic stuff (and we love their slogan, “Hack things better”), but one can’t (yet!) just drop in on any local hardware store to buy a quick fix…so [mikey77] has cooked up a recipe for a basic Sugru work-alike. His “Oogoo” (a name likely inspired by oobleck) is a simple mix of corn starch and silicone caulk.

A two-ingredient recipe would hardly seem adequate material for an article, but [mikey77]’s left no stone unturned, providing an extensive tutorial not only on mixing the compound, but how to add colors, cast and carve custom shapes, and how his home-made recipe compares to the name brand product. As a bonus, the article then drifts into a little Halloween project where he demonstrates etching conductive cloth, how to make conductive glue, and other hands-on shenanigans.