The ancient craft of pottery and cutting-edge 3D printing technology have joined to create the world’s first printable porcelain. This unique, newly developed material is only available at Shapeways, one of the world’s leading 3D printing companies.
With innovative materials come innovative ideas, and now, for the first time ever, regular photos can be reproduced as reliefs on ceramic tiles through a combination of 3D printing technology and printable porcelain. The result is a 3D-printed sculptural relief tile that captures an image from an ordinary photograph.
3D designer Bryan Harris and ceramic materials expert Albert Pfarr came up with the idea as on offshoot of their ceramic products work for Shapeways.
“During Shapeways Porcelain pilot we wanted to try something that would be impossible to create using traditional ceramics,” said Harris. “We had no ideal that the results would be this amazing. I was the architect of the idea. Albert made the photo details come to life with the celadon glaze.”
“When the tile came out, it was amazing,” Pfarr said. “To my knowledge, no one has ever transferred photographic imagery into relief and put it on a ceramic tile and glazed it. This is not an
image transfer on the surface, but an actual 3D relief. It’s a new
The tiles have a slight sculptural relief and gorgeous detail. A
customer can go to the Celadon Selfie shop on Shapeways site and upload a favorite picture of a grandparent, child, pet, or even a flower or an abstract image — virtually any image that can fit within the production guidelines can be reproduced on a tile. Once the order is placed, the Shapeways team will create the tile and mail it to the customer.
The tiles are fully functional and behave like ordinary ceramic tiles. They can be used as art or as decorative accents in kitchens or bathrooms.
In addition to tiles, photographic relief images can also be put on
cups, pendants, and a variety of other ceramic products.
A rich, blue-green celadon glaze brings out the details in the image. Celadon is a pottery glaze that originated in China thousands of years ago. It is semi-translucent and jade-green to blue-green in color. It has delicate natural crackling and luxurious glass-like quality.
For Harris, there isn’t any field today that is as exciting as 3D
“I’m captivated by the potential of this technology and how it
changes they way we manufacture products,” Harris said.