This paper reports from ongoing research into the use of 3D printing for developing design and production tools, more specifically for creating dies for the clay extrusion process. Through practice based experiments the research seeks to pose wider questions regarding the use of new technology in design and applied arts practice.
For the conceptual base for the research, technological determinism is used as the theoretical lens. This notion proposes technology as the main, and sometime exclusive, driver of cultural, economic and social developments (Chandler 1995). This notion resonates with development the field of 3D printing, which over the last decade have frequently spurred notions of technological determinism to be expressed, with predictions of wide-ranging and disruptive impact on design and manufacturing coursed by this technology.
While 3D printing forms one of the key technological component for this research, other central aspects of this inquiry concerns how the physical characteristics of the production medium can be used to creatively disrupt a design output that has been planned through the use of digital tools. These aspects are explored through the production of a series of extruded ceramic jugs. The process starts by designing extrusion dies through the use of a visual programming scrip. The dies are then fabricated via 3D printing and employed to produce a series jugs (Jugtrusions) through the analogue clay extrusion process. The plasticity of the clay frequently causes unpredictable ‘curling’ in the extruded forms, which affect both aesthetic and functional aspects of the jugs. The particular physical characteristics of the clay medium can be seen as disrupting a design process that is based on high-tech tools and a new concept of technological indeterminism is presented in order to describe how a particular design and production approach can be used to affect the final artefact in unpredictable ways.