Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Argillasys 3D Printed Ceramic Spin Out Company

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement - Commercialisation Highlight Call
Awarded to: Hoskins, Stephen
Co-investigator: Huson, David
Industry partner: Sibelco UK
Project duration: 31/01/2014 – 30/01/2015
Project Details:
The aim of this project is to create a spin out company that exploits the patented 3D printed ceramic process developed by Hoskins and Huson at the University of the West of England, Bristol as a result of an AHRC funded project 'The Fabrication of Three Dimensional Art and Craft Artefacts through Virtual Digital Construction and Output'. According to the influential Wohler's Report of 2011, the Global 3D print market is estimated by to be worth $1.74 billion and is growing at an annual rate of 24.1%. Overall the 3D print industry has grown in double digit figures for 15 of its 24 years. There are many bureau services around the world for 3D printing specialising in 3D printing prototype models for industry. To date there is only one company, Figulo, who are US based, printing in 3D ceramics in the global market. The applicants and their partner believe is a demand for a UK based specialist 3D printed ceramic bureau service. 3D printed ceramics is a real material with which it is possible to print shapes in ceramics. that were previously unobtainable, it is this second aspect the researchers seek to exploit.
We aim to create a 3D ceramic prototyping facility for designers and the ceramic tableware industry in the UK and Europe. In addition the company will investigate the commercial potential of printing ceramic setters for the industry. Additional markets will be 3D printed photoceramic tiles for both decorative use and the Southern European
gravestone market and a range of off the shelf 3D printed designs.
To achieve this aim the a new range of slip coating materials will be developed that replicate the characteristics of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain bodies and a source of suitable glazes will be identified or new glazes developed, to match these new bodies. In addition we seek to gain better market intelligence of the industrial ceramic tableware market as well as targeting the consumer and specialist bespoke designer and craft markets. The team will be aided by their partnership with Sibelco, a Belgian mineral and metal extraction company with a global reach. Sibelco have over 245 production units worldwide for the extraction, production and distribution of the main industrial minerals quartz, cristobalite, nepheline syenite, plastic clay, and olivine. The UK research and development arm of Sibelco will collaborate on the project both with technical support and assistance with market intelligence.
The primary beneficiaries of this project will be industrial and artist/craft/design users in the creative industries working with ceramics that will interface with and be customers of the company. It will put the UK at the forefront of 3D printed ceramics and demonstrate the commercial viability of UK art and design research having a direct impact upon UK PLC as a cutting edge digital manufacturing environment.
The project will impact on the UK ceramics industries ability to develop new product in much reduced turn-around times. By reducing the time taken to produce setters from a six to eight week minimum turn around currently achieved, due to shipping times from China, down to a matter of days from concept to completion. Currently a ceramic prototype requires several days of a full time craftsman to create a plaster mould to cast a finished prototype. This service will reduce that time at a greatly reduced cost. It will allow industry to create inexpensive ceramic prototypes therefore making them more innovative and able to take chances. In the long term it also gives the industry the ability to create specialist mass customised objects in a way that would have been inconceivable in the past.
For artists, designers and craftspeople, the service will allow the creation of a one-off or limited run of a design at a commercially viable price, without needing a large workshop and expensive tooling. Further copies can be created to order without the need to create all of the objects in one go. The service would cater to the new breed of designer craftsperson, who is a comfortable working in a digital environment, as working with traditional hand tools and skills.




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Funding Awards

2.5 D Vector Driven Printing

Funding Organisations

Hewlett Packard (HP)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

EU Marie Curie Actions

Research Councils UK (RCUK)

Newby Trust