Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs (detail) 1871

3D and Rapid Prototyping Research Projects

Can Egyptian Paste Techniques (Faience) Be Used For 3D Printed, Solid Free-form Fabrication of Ceramics?

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council
awarded to:
Hoskins, Stephen
researcher participants:
Huson, David, Phd Student Katie Vaughan
Project duration: 01/09/2012 - 31/08/2015

Project details:
The Arts and Humanities Research Council have funded a 3 year research project for David Huson and Professor Stephen Hoskins to develop a process based upon historic Egyptian Faience techniques, which should enable ceramic artists, designers and craftspeople to print 3D objects in a material which they are familiar with and that can be glazed and vitrified in one firing.
Faience was first used in the 5th Millennium BC and was the first glazed ceramic material invented by man. Faience was not made from clay (but instead composed of quartz and alkali fluxes) and is distinct from Italian Faience or Majolica, which is a tin, glazed earthenware. (The earliest Faience is invariably blue or green, exhibiting the full range of shades between them, and the colouring material was usually copper).

The researchers believe that it is possible to create a contemporary 3D printable, self-glazing, non-plastic ceramic material that exhibits the characteristics and quality of Egyptian Faience. It is the self-glazing properties that are of interest for this research project.

Title: SolidFree-form Fabrication in Fired Ceramic as a Design Aid for Concept Modelling in the Ceramic Industry

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council
awarded to:
Hoskins, Stephen
researcher participants:
Huson, David and Walters, Peter
project partner:
Denby Pottery
image (right):
Prototype design for 3D object, Peter Walters
Project duration:
31/03/2011 - 30/03/2012

Project details:
During the AHRC funded three-year research project ‘The Fabrication of Three Dimensional Art and Craft Artefacts through Virtual Digital Construction and Output’ the investigators Huson and Hoskins developed a patented ceramic material. Whilst there are several research groups working internationally in this field, the CFPR team are currently at the forefront of these developments with a method which uses 3D computer aided design (3D CAD) software to design an object on a computer and print a model directly in a ceramic material to be subsequently fired, glazed and decorated.

The primary aim of new project is to prove the commercial viability of 3D printed ceramic bodies as a design tool for concept modelling of tableware and whiteware for the ceramic industry. A further aim is to investigate ceramic firing supports and their advantages in the production of one-off ceramic design concept models.

Grant title: Smart materials and novel actuators: Creative applications in art and design

Awarding body: UWE Early Career Researcher Starter Grant
Awarded to: Dr Peter Walters
Research Co-Investigators: Dr Jonathan Rossiter, Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering Mathematics, University of Bristol, Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, Research Fellow, Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Research Associate: David McGoran
Project duration: 01.02.2010 - 31.10.2010

Project details:
Funded by a UWE Early Career Researcher Starter Grant 2009/10, this research project will investigate the use of “smart” shape-changing materials, together with 3D printing and fabrication technologies, in the creative realization of interactive art and design artifacts. For example, an artwork in a gallery, which changes shape in response to the presence of a gallery visitor, or a product which uses physical movement to communicate information to its owner.

Smart materials exhibit changes in their physical properties, such as size or shape, in response to external stimuli (eg temperature, or electric current). Smart materials to be investigated will include, for example, “shape memory” materials, which can function as actuators i.e. devices that provide movement or changes in shape, for robotics and related applications. Research will also investigate the potential use of a live biological material (microorganisms) within a novel “bio-actuator”.
The enquiry aims to demonstrate that smart materials and novel actuators, which are often developed for “space-age” engineering, robotics, and medical applications, are becoming increasingly available and accessible to practitioners within the creative arts. The investigation will explore the technical capabilities of smart materials and novel actuators, and will demonstrate their potential use within art and design applications through the creative production of a series of exemplar artifacts.

Title: The Fabrication of Three Dimensional Art and Craft Artefacts through Virtual Digital Construction and Output

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Principle Investigator: Professor Stephen Hoskins
researcher participants: Thirkell, Paul, Huson, David, Walters, Peter, Reid, Brendan
Project duration: 01.01.2007 - 31.12.2009

Project details and full report:
The Centre for Fine Print Research was awarded a large AHRC grant in 2007 to carry out research into 3D rendering and 3D printing (also known as rapid prototyping).

view full project details on the project page:
Fabrication of 3D art and crafts project page

.pdf download:
Download the full project report here (.pdf)

Katie Davies, Sound form image
Katie Davies
Stained Galss window in St Lukes church
Nathalie Liege
Tony Blair Medal for Dishonour
Richard Hamilton
Connor WilsonLemon Squeezer
Connor Wilson
Bloodhound 3D project

Title: Edible 3D Printing Bits for Bytes potato project

UWE Early Career Researcher Starter Grant 2010/11
Awarded to: Deborah Southerland
Collaborators: Peter Walters and David Huson

Edible 3D Printing is a ‘proof of concept’ research project that will bring the versatility and precision of the digital world into the realm of food and edible products. The project seeks to explore and test the technical capabilities of food-based materials (eg: sugars, starch powders, alcohol and chocolate) within 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies.

The team are undertaking tests on three main production and manufacture techniques for technical feasibility and creative potential:

1. Direct free form fabrication, using powdered food mixes within the Z-Corp powder binder 3D printer.
2. Using heated syringe extruders and chocolate based products within the ‘Rap Man’ rapid prototyping system.
3. 3D printing of resin and/or plaster master models, from which silicone or vacuum formed plastic moulds will be produced, for casting single or multiple food based forms.

The potential of 3D printing has been under philosophical discussion for some time, but conventional materials are often limited in terms of functional and visual qualities. Food based products could provide an exciting alternative with significant commercial potential in the form of delicious delectable edible objects. It is anticipated that these fabrication processes will allow for the creation of intricate edible forms that would be unachievable through conventional cooking and food preparation techniques.

related outcomes:

Edible 3D Printing

Authors:Walters, P., Huson, D. and Southerland, D


A peer-reviewed conference paper given at the 3D Printing and Prototyping panel at the Digital Fabrication 2011 Conference, NIP 27, 27th International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies. The potential of 3D printing has been under technical and philosophical discussion for some time, but current rapid prototyping materials can be costly and are limited in terms of functional and visual qualities. Food-based materials could provide a novel and exciting alternative which may also be affordable and accessible as 3d printing extends from industrial applications towards educational and home use. This paper compared and contrasted the findings of a research project that explored freeform fabrication of food-based materials using rapid prototyping techniques: Rapid tooling: Using conventional Z-Corp powder binder 3d printing to fabricate master models from which silicon moulds are made and food materials cast. Powder / binder 3D printing using a combination of different sugars to produce edible forms. Extrusion based rapid manufacture using materials that include potato, chocolate and cream cheese. The investigation of food as a material used in conjunction with these technologies is a growing area of interest and investigation. This paper reviewed the work already being undertaken by others in the field, as well as articulating the findings of our research project, and pointing to opportunities for future developments in this field.

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Solid free-form fabrication
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Smart materials and novel actuators
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Fabrication of 3D arts and crafts artefacts
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Edible 3D printing
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