David Huson and Katie Vaughan and colleagues at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England are continuing their research into the 3D printing of ceramic bodies by investigating the possibilities of using techniques developed by the ancient Egyptians to produce a 3D printed ceramic body that will glaze itself during a single firing process. The Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England has funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a three year research project entitled "Can Egyptian Paste Techniques (Faience) be used for 3D printed, Solid Free-form Fabrication of Ceramics?" Now in the final year of the project this research aims to create a set of functional ceramic materials through a process based upon historic Egyptian Faience techniques, which will allow ceramic artists, designers and craftspeople to 3D print actual objects in a material that can be glazed and vitrified in one firing; a breakthrough for ceramic design and manufacture. The two methods used in ancient Egypt to enable self-glazing in one firing are efflorescence glazing and cementation glazing: In efflorescence glazing soluble salts are introduced in to the body mix, after forming and during the drying stage these salts migrate to the surface of the formed article and during firing fuse and react with the body materials to form a glaze on the surface, by introducing colouring oxides such as cobalt, iron, manganese or copper into the mix a range of coloured glazes can be produced. In cementation glazing the article that has been formed is surrounded in a saggar (a refractory box used to support and protect a ceramic object during firing) by a powder consisting of a glaze precursor, during the firing process a reaction takes place between the ceramic article and the glaze precursor powder and a glaze is formed on to the surface of the ceramic article, the firing temperature is below the melting temperature of the glazing powder so that the glazed ceramic article can be removed from the powder bed in which it was fired. This paper will describe the development of a 3D printable ceramic body with a glaze precursor powder for the cementation glazing process. (the initial development work was described in a paper presented at DF2014) The process parameters, formulations and 3D printing settings required will be detailed and images and examples of artefacts made by this process will be included. This is a new area of research to create a functional 3D printed real ceramic material through a process based upon historic Egyptian Faience techniques, which will allow ceramic artists and designers to 3D print objects in a material that can be glazed and vitrified in one low temperature energy efficient firing process, a potential breakthrough for ceramic design and manufacture which will be applicable to the arts and wider industries.
Huson, D., & Vaughan, K. (2015). 3D printed self-glazing ceramics: Process and materials development