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GCode.Clay Project by Emerging Objects Creates Clay Vessels and Smart Cladding with Gcode

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The Emerging Objects studio by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello is possibly the most experience studio in the world in terms of experimenting with materials (and processes) for 3D printing. Initially they mostly worked with powders but recently they have also been experimenting with extrusion. In their latest  GCODE.Clay project, they use ceramics and they actually let the machines create the designs.

The collection is made up of several objects 3D printed in various clays (porcelain, bmix, terra-cotta, and recycled clay) that explore the creative potential of designing with G-code, the language in which people tell computerized machine tools how to make something. “In this case the 3D printer is pushed outside the boundaries of what would typically define the printed object, creating a series of controlled errors that create a new expressions in clay defined by the plasticity of the material, gravity and machine behavior,” says Rael.


“Typically, 3D printed ceramic objects are defined by the layers of clay whose striations are present on the surface of a 3D printed object,” Rael continues. “In this case, the surface quality takes on the appearance of textiles, with clay being woven, threaded, curled, as it droops away from the surface.”

GCODE.Clay was first exhibited at Space 2214 in its inaugural exhibition investigating Pattern, Predictability, and Repetition, which explored the themes of repetition, and rote action—a defining peril of modernity. In this project, the unpredictability is the fundamental aspiration of the object making. Patterns emerge and disappear in the variations of the experiments explored.


As their research often focuses on the use of 3D printing in building and architecture, a series of experiments in ceramic wall cladding assemblies were explored as well. Each assembly is hung using custom 3D printed hardware, and serve as prototypes for ceramic cladding systems for building. The cladding are designed to be weather resistant, sustainable, and to create a shade and water barrier as a building skin. As Ronald pointed out, one shouldn’t discount the necessity for aesthetics as well!

“In each object, texture, pattern, and surface make the objects tactile, and gather light and shadow in beautiful ways. Architecture, lighting, and pottery all come to mind when considering the objects through several scales. Ceramic becomes soft to the eye, dynamic, with detail that could not be achieved by hand — yet the hand of the digital designer is present in every artifact,” Rael says.

Photo: Rebecca Jay, courtesy of 2214
Photo: Rebecca Jay, courtesy of 2214

GCODE.Clay from Rael San Fratello on Vimeo:

Project Date: 2016
Project Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Kent Wilson, Alex Schofield
Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Nathan John, Clarke Selman, Douglas Burnham, envelopeA+D, Danny Defe at Deltabots, Eyal Nir at Autodesk, and especially to the incomparable Ehren Tool in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley.

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VoxelMatters is the online trade media portal published by 3dpbm, a leading marketing and market research firm specializing in the AM industry. 3dpbm also publishes the 3D Printing Business Directory, the AM Focus eBook series and the 3dpbm Research AM Market Reports. 3D Printing Media Network was founded with the goal to provide the latest industry news, insights and opinions to a global audience of professionals and decision makers.

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