Grant Diffendaffer

Design. Make. Educate.

I’ve mentioned that I would be debuting new jewelry soon.  Well, that time is May  15th, 16th and 17th!  I will be at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015!  I will have my own booth with live displays of my Printrbot 3D printer and computerized embroidery machine that I have integrated into my handmade process.

I will have on hand prototypes representing the birth of whole new line of forward-looking, vintage-inspired, jewelry and accessories.

I’ll be representing under a brand new moniker and I’ll be there to tell you how you can be first in line to be wearing my new designs.  With just a little bit of help from you that is.

So come on down to the Maker Faire!  With over 130,000 attendees last year and 1100 makers it truly is a beehive of maker activity.  From crafts to robotics and 3D printing, musical instruments to garden implements, it’s all at the Maker Faire.  While I’ve participated in the past with Five Ton Crane, this is my first solo exhibition.  I’ll be posting all about my plans here, including where you can find me there.



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I use 3D printing and mold-making to shape clay.  Meanwhile, quality printers are emerging that are designed to output directly to ceramic and metal clays.  There are also a range of machines made to extrude a broader category of paste.  I’ll talk about some of the top options here.

First up is the Mini Metal Maker.  Designed to print metal clay, this 3d printer was developed with funding from a successful IndieGoGo campaign.  The creators have shipped the original units and are currently looking to fund full scale production with another campaign.  You can get yourself DIY build plans for a contribution of $25.  A fully assembled metal version of the machine will run you $1500.  Very affordable compared to some options. Strangely, if you want to choose your own color, that apparently will cost an additional $600.  The Mini Metal Maker is flexible funding and as of the date of this post looks to be sending out only three machines, with nine days left in their campaign.  It would be great to see them continue to develop and produce the machine.

The Mini Metal Maker appears to be a thoroughly thought out little machine. It looks worth supporting to me, but maybe you will be interested in some of the following machines instead, which are capable of printing with ceramic clay and more.

The 3D Potterbot is a delta type machine, which means the print head is moved via three arms, instead of the more common Cartesian style machine, which runs in linear fashion on X and Y axis. It features a heavy duty ram extruder, and is billed as the first dedicated ceramic 3D printer.  The bot has a 17″ tall build area and rigid construction to handle the weight of ceramic clay.  Nozzles range from 3.5 to 6.5 mm.  As a test, the company ran the extruder with no nozzle and was able to lay down consistent layers at 16mm.  If you are ready to run a bot, they go for $3250.

Hyrel 3D hails from Atlanta.  Their flagship model, the H30 is designed to print in more materials than I’ve ever seen as well as pull triple duty as a light weight CNC router and laser cutter.  They have a variety of extruders to accommodate cold, warm, hot, and very hot materials (up to 350C extrusion temp). “The Cold Flow EMO-25 prints in Biologicals, Clays including PMC, Plasticine, Plah- Doh, Porcelain, RTV Silicone, Sugru (Rubber), Sculpey and more.”  Prices start at about $4000.  Expensive, but they look super solid, highly capable, and come with an embedded PC, including a 650W power supply, an Intel mother board, and 4GB RAM, plus a multi-touch screen, embedded camera…it probably makes coffee too.

Dutch company VormVrij 3d has just released  a polished looking printer from which they have achieved some beautiful prints.  The Lutum 3D system is pneumatically powered and features dual extruders, offering the ability to blend two colors of clay in one pieces.  They claim best prints with 3 to 6 millimeter nozzles and can print up to 10.  Bonus for the giant build volume of 650mm x 700mm x 700mm.  Prices run from €4655 for the single tank, single extruder Lutum Original model to €5858 for the dual extruder option with two XL clay tanks and one normal sized clay tank.

The WASP project, from Italy, produces high resolution clay printers capable of using a .35 millimeter nozzle, as well as large scale delta printers.  The project originally coalesced around the goal of using clay 3D printing to make homes.  WASP is an acronym which stands for World Advanced Saving Process.

Many others are looking into this technology.  I’ll be looking forward to what Printrbot has to offer in this range.  As of last fall, they were beta testing a paste extruder.

Others to watch in the field include Belgium’s Unfold, a design studio that has been chronicling their exploration of clay 3D printing since 2006.  They are pushing exploration into the extrusion technology, attempting to address the core issue of flow–starting it precisely, and ending it with as much precision.  They claim that “a progressing Cavity Pump is the ideal solution to maintain and control true volumetric extrusion of materials with varying levels of viscosity”

Nothing compares to the purity of pottery made from simple earthen clay.  I personally love the opportunity to work on my clay models in a leather hard state.  It’s a great way to put a beautiful surface on the finished piece.  Working with printed pieces while they are still green also offers the chance to build something larger out of them, deform, or otherwise add a custom touch.  Others, such as artist Jade Crompton are 3D printing models, mold-making, and slip-casting.  Will 3D printing change the way you work with clay?






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Sometimes I work in Secret. Sometimes I have an open sharing process. For the past 18 months I have been secreted away learning new skills–figuring out how to use digital technology to make my design visions real. Things are starting to work out like I want them to and I’m ready to share.

Grant Diffendaffer is 3D printing. Yes my friends, I did it. After more than 20 years of working with clay– including ceramic, polymer, and metal clay, I’m now sculpting in digital clay. Why bother? Because the miracle of modern technology allows me to bring these designs back into the real world, and reproduce them in the materials that I am familiar with.

My Printrbot 3D printer cost me $399 when I bought it. I’ve put in a couple hundred dollars in upgrades (including 18 parts that were printed by the machine), and hundreds of hours of practice. I’m now able to create precise and highly detailed small models with impressive surface quality. These models flow right into my typical jewelry process, which usually involves modeling in polymer, molding in silicone, and recreating in metal clay for durable, beautiful, long lasting creations. At the moment, I’m skipping the polymer part of my process completely. Instead, I print models with naturally derived PLA filament, and move from there to mold-making.  My latest experiments have moved to flexible filament, which will allow me to directly print multi-part molds. Beyond that, there are currently available machines and materials that allow either direct metal output or precision lost-wax casting.

I’m currently creating metal surfaces with subtle and intricate detail using this process.  It enables me to engineer solid connections and precise bezels, to create surface decoration at the same time, and to control dimensions and material usage of the final work.  The possibilities for form and finish are great.  I’m making married metal–two metals in one smooth surface with the contrast defining a graphic image.  Other techniques beckon, like guilloche and cloisonné

I have several exciting announcements regarding my plans with 3D printing and related technology. I’ve been busy designing–working to debut new jewelry that combines multiple materials to intricate ornamental effect. Having a 3D printer and CNC embroidery machine in my studio is bringing me much closer to bringing these dreams to fruition soon. They have won a place of honor alongside all my other tools, allowing these two hands to do more quality work–and to put it in your hands soon.

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It’s been awhile since I have posted here. You may have noticed my site was down for redesign–something that seems to always take longer than planned. I’m back though with a lovely new responsive wordpress theme that should look great on all of your devices.
People always ask me what I’m doing when I’m not in the studio. Well, I put a new page up to focus on some of the collaborative projects I have been involved in. When I’m not working on my personal jewelry and sculpture projects I work in support of numerous different arts organizations as a carpenter, fabricator and shop technician. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of CNC work–something that has also greatly influenced my studio process.
What?!? — you say…I still have a studio process? Yes indeed people, a lot has been happening behind the scenes here and I have reworked my whole design and production process in new and exciting ways that I can’t wait to divulge.
For now then, I hope you are content with this peek at some of my latest work, which will be made more widely available to the public this spring. Stay tuned for more!

The makings of a jewelry line.

The makings of a jewelry line.

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I’m in Calgary, Alberta for a week with Five Ton Crane and the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. After travel through the Black Rock System, The Crucible Belt, Maker Fair, NASA Ames, and two and a half turns round Sol on the San Francisco embarcadero, our fair lady has landed at Beakerhead.
This is the inaugural year for Calgary’s science, art, and engineering festival and we are proud to provide the flagship installation. So if you are in Calgary this week, come on down to Victoria Park and say hi! The Rocketship will be open daily for tours. Climb to the top of our streamlined beauty and recline in the captains seat, explore the navigation deck and biolab (watch your fingers!), and check out my rayguns and bronze mission pennants.
We’ll be here through September 15th, 2013.


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