February 24, 2019 Lauren Uhl

Technology in Ceramics: How Innovation and Digital Design Is Revolutionizing The Pottery Industry

Technology has revolutionized the world of art in incredible ways. Digital Art museums, 3D Printed Sculptures, interactive art, and more, have redefined the ways we see the possibilities in art. However, the ceramics industry is experiencing its own creative changes to the traditional practice. The use of technology, specifically 3D printing and EM waves, has revolutionized ceramicists’ ability to create and mass produce art in countless ways.

Curt Hammerly, for example, has used 3D printing as a way to both experiment with new designs as well as create plaster casts for slip casting (a method of creating ceramic pieces by pouring liquid clay into a plaster mold). By 3D printing his pieces in order to make them into molds, he can perfect his design and also mass produce them. This blend in art and technology allows mass production and efficiency for his business while still letting the beauty and
originality of the design to show through. Hammerly’s work is a perfect example of how technology and art can be woven in the entrepreneurial spirit.

How Slip Casting Works

How Slip Casting Works

An example of how slip casting allows for perfection and mass production of Hammerly's pieces

An example of how slip casting allows for perfection and mass production of Hammerly’s pieces

Traditionally, the ceramic making process requires high amounts of energy (think: firing pieces to thousands of degrees). However, Reeja Jayan, a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, is currently researching ways to cut the energy used in the ceramic making process. Through her research, she hopes to find ways to use EM waves (what is used in microwaves to warm food) to heat ceramics while slashing the energy used. Through her research and education, students across the country can be inspired to innovate in the arts field.

"Building Bytes", a 3-D printed ceramic piece by Brian Peters

“Building Bytes”, a 3-D printed ceramic piece by Brian Peters

“Unlike homogeneous materials typically appreciated for their stability, such as concrete, engineered wood and steel, clay moves in accordance with its origins in the earth, responding to changes in humidity, temperature and chemical composition. This very unpredictability necessitates another degree of exploration within digital media and research: the development of an intimacy with the vagaries of materiality — and even a craft sensibility — in order to translate digital savvy into compelling physicality.”

– Joshua G. Stein and Del Harrow

Stein and Harrows explanation justifies why artists and students alike tend to lean away from ceramics, and why it has taken so long to see technology and ceramics begin to intersect. However, with artists and researchers like Hammerly or Jayan, we can begin to witness the intersection between ceramics and technology form at a rapid rate.

Sources:

https://engineering.cmu.edu/news-events/news/2018/04/19-3d-printing-ceramics.html

https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/data-clay/

https://www.instagram.com/hammerlyceramics/

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-principle-of-slip-casting-40_fig9_322140764

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