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

Case Studies

Solid free-form fabrication in fired ceramic as a design aid for concept modelling in the ceramic industry

Design case study: Stephen Hoskins (Download the PDF)

Stephen Hoskins is Hewlett Packard Professor of Fine Print and director of the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. His creative background is in Fine Art printmaking and he has for many years taught ceramic decoration as an aspect of creative practice in print. His research spans the visual arts and design and he frequently collaborates with industry on creative applications for new technology. The present work was inspired by hand-decorated majolica bowls from the 16th century Italian school of ceramics (figure 1). Hoskins has a long-held fascination with the work of Italian Renaissance masters, including the theories of Alberti. An early digitally-printed piece by Hoskins was a 2-dimensional development of the underside of an Italian Renaissance bowl. It therefore seemed an appropriate progression to create a three-dimensional version of the bowl by 3D printing in ceramics.

Figure 1. 16th century Italian majolica bowls

A 3D CAD model of the bowl was first created. This was based upon measured drawings made from photographs of 16 century majolica bowls. The design for a setter to support the bowl during firing was also created at this time (figure 3).

Figure 3. CAD design of bowl and setter for support during firing.

Figure 4. Bowls in the kiln on setters

Figure 5. Fired bowl being separated from setter

The bowl with setter was 3D printed in ceramic and was then dried in the oven, de-powdered and placed in the kiln to be fired. The fired bowls were dipped in porcelain slip and then re-fired. Following this, an opaque white glaze was applied to the bowls and they were then fired for a third time. On-glaze ceramic transfers were applied to the glaze surface of the bowls and then they were fired for a fourth and final time. The glazed and decorated bowls are shown in figure 6.

This case study demonstrates that the UWE ceramic powder-binder 3D printing process can be exploited to create bespoke and limited edition ceramic artefacts which can be fired, glazed and decorated, resulting in a similar look and feel to conventionally-produced ceramics.

Figure 6. Stephen Hoskins – decorated ceramic bowls