While we’ve seen quite the gamut of ‘3D printed ceramics’ over the past few years, few executions ever explored the possibility of adding detail to each individual extruded layer.

Aiming to create 3D printed ceramic pieces that more closely resembled historic and detailed artifacts rather than a layered Play-Doh bowl, Dutch artist Oliver van Herpt has created what is surely one of the most original 3D printers in the realm of ceramic design in recent memory.

Inspired by a tool that has been used for centuries—the potter’s wheel—van Herpt has created a water-cut steel structure that is five-feet-tall and automates the process of hand-detailed ceramic creations using additive manufacturing methods.


In order to ensure that every layer was printed exactly how he intended, van Herpt also had to write and debug software as well as develop the ‘perfect’ clay recipe that was extruder-friendly while still being pliable enough to have detail added:

“I designed and made my own extruder and experimented with many different types of clay. Iteratively improving my process and testing brought me closer and closer to a solution. Major issues such as the collapse of objects gradually solved. A breakthrough came when I decided to move from mixing clay with water. By redesigning my extruder I could use hard clay instead. This lead me to be able to make larger items with higher levels of detail.”


The final result of van Herpt’s attempt to automate the clay potter’s process is an impressive collection of pieces that reach as high as three feet tall…and all with intricate details added to the layers including a woven aesthetic and a sediment-inspired aesthetic:

“The 3D Woven collection comprises of a weave pattern reminiscent of the days of artisans. 3D printing has the potential to bring back the unique and individualized objects that artisans make. But, this time it is a machine who manufactures the final product. Each unique vase in this collection shows us the potential of cutting edge technology while reminding us of the days of yore.

The Sediment collection has some of the thinnest 3D printed ceramics layers available today. Imposing, unique 3D printed interior items ushering in a new world of digital fabrication. The fine stria do remind us that the object was 3D printed but only when one is close to it.”









Check out more of van Herpt’s work over at OlivierVanHerpt.com.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.