How to tell that clay is ready to be used for printing

To determine if clay is ready to be used in 3D printing (LDM), it is crucial to achieve the right consistency that allows for a smooth print. Here’s how you can check it in more detail:

STEP 1: PREPARING THE CLAY

  • Start by making sure you have the correct clay material prepared for 3D printing. The clay must be properly prepared, generally mixed with water, so that it has a consistency that allows it to flow through the small nozzle of the printer.

STEP 2: USING THE SYRINGE

  • To assess the consistency of the clay, use a syringe. A standard 5ml syringe works well for this purpose, but be sure to cut the spout so that the clay can flow freely.

STEP 3: CONSISTENCY TEST

  • Now, proceed with the clay consistency test using the syringe:

OPTION 1) HORIZONTAL MATERIAL (TOO MUCH HARDNESS): Gently press the plunger of the syringe until it reaches the 1 ml mark. If the material in the clay is so hard that it remains horizontal and does not flow out of the syringe, it means that the dough is too hard for printing. In this case, you need to add a little water to the clay and mix until you get a more fluid consistency.


WARNING: Filling a tank and trying to print a slurry like this means that the machine will not be able to get the material all the way to the extruder and will need to be opened and reprepared the dough.

hard material


OPTION 2) MATERIAL COLLAPSED TO THE GROUND (TOO SOFT): Again, gently press the plunger of the syringe up to 1 ml. If the material in the clay immediately collapses to the ground as soon as it comes out of the syringe, it means that the dough is too soft and does not hold its shape. In this case, you need to add more solid clay or wait for the clay to dry a bit before continuing with printing.


WARNING: Filling a tank with a material like this means that the part will be very prone to collapse during printing. Especially if the dough has not totally absorbed the water, the most liquid part of the material may leak from the upper part of the extruder.

soft material

OPTION 3) MATERIAL THAT SLOWLY FALLS TO THE GROUND (CORRECT CONSISTENCY): When you press the syringe plunger up to 1ml, if the material in the clay flows slowly to the ground, maintaining its shape without immediately collapsing, then you have reached the correct consistency for 3D printing. In this case, the clay is ready to be used in the printing process.

correct material

STEP 4: PRESSURE TEST

  • Another test to do is to check the pressure in the clay when it comes out of the printer. The ideal pressure should be between 4 and 5 bar. Make sure that the material comes out evenly and without burrs and that the pressure is stable.

ARE YOU NEW TO CLAY 3D PRINTING AND CAN’T FIND THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY?

Start with a dough that is slightly softer and stickier than recommended in the previous instructions. A more water-rich slurry can simplify the initial printing process, although you’ll need to be careful not to print too quickly, or the material may collapse during the process.

With time and experience, you’ll gain the ability to create slurries for printing with the ideal texture for technology. Initially, it is best to be cautious and gradual in adjusting the dough to avoid blockages in the extruder. As you gain confidence and better understand how the ceramic material behaves during 3D printing, you’ll be able to precisely tailor the texture of the slurry to your specific needs.

Experimentation and practice are key to mastering clay 3D printing, so don’t be afraid to do trial and error to achieve your desired consistency.

Note: If you have any additional concerns or difficulties, consider participating in advanced courses taught by specialized technicians. These courses can be customized to hone your skills and provide you with specific support for using your 3D printer for clay. Advanced training can significantly help overcome initial challenges and deepen your understanding of technology.