When it comes to 3D printing clay, there are a lot of challenges to be met. An extruder capable of pushing clay is critical, and [davidsfeir] has an updated version suitable for an Ender 3 printer. This extruder is based on earlier designs aimed at delta printers, but making one compatible with an Ender 3 helps keep things accessible.
What’s special about a paste extruder that can push clay? For one thing, clay can’t be stored on a spool, so it gets fed into the extruder via a hose with the help of air pressure. From there, the clay is actually extruded with the help of an auger that takes care of pushing the clay down through the nozzle. The extruder also needs a way to deal with inevitable air bubbles, which it does by allowing air to escape out the narrow space at the top of the assembly while clay gets fed downward.
[davidsfeir] was greatly inspired by the work of clay-printing pioneers [Piotr Waśniowski] and his de-airing clay extruder, and [Jonathan Keep], who has documented 3D printing with clay comprehensively in a freely-available PDF.
There are so many different aspects to printing with clay or clay-like materials that almost every part is ripe for innovation. For example, we’ve seen wild patterns result from sticking a thumping subwoofer under a print bed.