|Monthly Tech-Tip |
3D Design software has revolutionized traditional ceramic manufacturing, now it is accessible to hobbyists and potters.
Key phrases linking here: fusion 360, 3d design, shapr - Learn more
The biggest hurdle to adopting 3D printing is choosing and learning to use 3D design software. The processing power, multi-function mouse, connectivity and screen of a desktop computer are almost essential for this. And a desktop computer is generally needed to handle the 3D slicer software anyway. And 3D design software has decades of maturity on the desktop.
Actually, some of what I just said is being challenged, 3D is moving to the iPad. As of 2022 Shapr is taking an industry-leading modeling engine, ParaSolid (the power behind SolidWorks), to the iPad. It also runs on desktop and enables working on the same design on both platforms. It is pricey, however. In 2023 Plasticity, also built on ParaSolid, is becoming more popular, it is targeted specifically at sculpting, modelling and 3D printing. Blender is taking animation and CGI by storm as a do-it-all tool, it is unimaginably powerful yet free (the add-on ecosystem it spawns has created a profitable industry). It is certainly capable of 3D modeling if you are determined enough to learn it. Rhino is also popular in ceramic circles.
Choosing which 3D package to adopt is generally governed by what those assisting you are using (the complexity of learning this is not something to do alone). As already noted, learning a 3D design software package can be the most overwhelming part of getting into 3D printing. To prevent becoming overwhelmed it is vital to have a teacher (hire a consultant on Upwork if needed to guide you through the creation of several things). I recommend using Upwork.com to find a consultant. And Fusion 360 as the designer.
You may already know that I am very excited about the potential of 3D printing for creating aids to making pottery. I glue four of these together to create a cookie cutter for producing slab-built mugs. For different sizes of mugs I need cutters with different geometries. This is quarter-cutter and it has been drawn "parametrically" using Fusion 360. That means that certain aspects of its geometry (two lengths and one angle) can be adjusted by simply changing the parameters (in the Parameters dialog). The drawing then adjusts automatically. It is magic! Other aspects are fixed (e.g. the right-angle, the pucker-preventing hole cutouts, the height, and thickness). Parametric design is revolutionary, it fits my try-it-adjust-it-try-it-again way of working. And, I can label these printed quarters according to the size, in this case 45-25-108.
This is Fusion 360. The profile was drawn and various measurements parameterized. That means the measurements were given names (e.g. body_diameter, thickness). This makes it possible to change aspects of the geometry of this shape by just editing the parameter numbers. If you are experienced in 3D CAD you will be able to see this drawing is actually beginner-level, I have not fully defined it. And, I have not done so in such a way that its height and width can be changed while maintaining the shape. I should also have placed the center of the lip at the origin. Further, it does not need to be hollow, it should be a solid body.
Intimidation by the complexity of this type of software is the biggest obstacle you will face to learning 3D design (for 3D-printing). Fusion 360 is the new mission of AutoDesk, the leader in CAD software for 30 years, bringing much of the power of their industrial strength Inventor product into the hands of everyone! Fusion 360 has a lot of advantages. It is a standard. There is a simple learning curve via their Tinkercad.com, videos on Youtube, easy online help and many freelancers to hire (at Upwork.com). It is free to qualifying users (teachers, students or people who earn less that $100k/yr), the fact that software of this kind of power and utility is actually available to anyone who wants to try it is amazing. Fusion 360 (and other 3D design products) cannot run 3D printers (3D slicers do that). Fusion 360 is very demanding on the processor and graphics hardware of your computer, typical laptops are not powerful enough.
Popular gurus get millions of views on their videos. Lars Christensen, Kevin Kennedy and Tyler Beck are popular contributors. Each of them has plenty of videos to teach you everything you need to know to get started designing for your ceramic production. If you get stuck, there are hundreds of places on line to go to find help. It is helpful if you know how to do a screen recording (e.g. using Screencast-o-Matic) to be able to demonstrate your problem. Getting specific answers to specific problems is a surefire way to progress in your knowledge. The first item to learn is sketching, if you can master that much of what you did will be modifying sketches (e.g. extruding, revolving, sweeping and lofting them).
Make your own pyrometric cones? Why not!
The Prusa Slicer generates G-Code for 3D-printing
3D printing is very important in ceramics, hobby and industry. A slicer is software that slices up a 3D model and runs the printer to lay down each layer.
Standard 3D printing technology (not printing with clay itself) is very useful to potters and ceramic industry in making objects that assist and enable production.
Standard 3D printers (not clay 3D printers) are incredibly useful in ceramic production and design, bringing difficult processes within reach of potters and hobbyists.
Right triangle calculator
|By Tony Hansen|
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