Olivier van Herpt, like many artists, found himself dissatisfied with the artistic capabilities of traditional 3D printers and 3D printing materials.
“When I first started researching 3D printing the technology was an exciting and interesting one,” the Dutch sculptor says. “But, the desktop 3D printers on offer were unable to produce things at a human scale. Large and medium scale functional design objects that we use such as bowls, plates & decorative objects could not be made. The objects made with desktop 3D printers were also low in heat resistance and could not be food safe. Industrial 3D printers could make food safe objects for everyday use but these would be too costly to produce.”
Honoring the old adage “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” van Herpt spent two years making his own unique 3D printer capable of printing with clay. Clay 3D printers are still something of a rarity, and the ones that exist require specialized clay filament. Van Herpt designed and made his own extruder that was capable of printing with ordinary, garden-variety hard clay.
Van Herpt, an industrial design graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, began using his printer to create tall, thin ceramic vessels in a range of striking shapes and textures.