Bricoleur Clay Extruder, Open Source

by Lauhaus Mar 14, 2016
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Google plus is dead and GitHub link isn't working. Any new location for your project?

Hey there, I used to be a part of the Google plus group, got busy and forgot where that group migrated to. Any chance that info is available?

Can anybody be make it for cr10 as I love clay printing but at the moment I'm just using a syringe and I like to get bigger

Hi, this looks awesome, will it work with lulzbot mini at all? Thank you

question... where should I put the washer?

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Is there an update on this design? Where can i find it? Google+?

Yes, I do post updates of what I am doing here:

The design is always changing, so I don't have a current Bill of Materials etc. unfortunately - but I may at some time in the future.

Hi Mr. Lauhaus, Thank you so much. Do you know, if this extruder could possibly work on an A6 anet 3d printer?

Is this a better design then the Wasp open source extruder?
Thanks Frans

I can't say, I've never used the WASP extruder. However, I think the choice of clay extruder is less important than the choice between an air compression feed (like WASP uses) or a mechanical feed. I personally feel the mechanical feed offers many advantages. If you are interested in my further developments of this process, I blog about it here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TomLauerman

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Hi, im very interested on this how do you control and synchronize the motor pushing the clay, and the motor which push the clay trough the nozzle, i couldn´t find any documentation even in your google+ profile :D

I use "color mixing" firmware and gcode - here is some info:

-implementing color mixing for Marlin, Repetier, and RepRap firmwares:




I posted about this here: https://plus.google.com/+TomLauerman/posts/eHUJnyiBXbi

+Jonathan Keep writes about his use of this process here: http://www.keep-art.co.uk/printhead.html

looks great!, im going to try and add a M6 nozzle threat on the bottom so i can screw in a standard printer nozzle on the bottom
Love the design!

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What material is the feeder tube made of and how thick is it? This is something I've wanted to do for a while and after seeing your extruder here, I think i might just follow through.

The feeder tube was made of flexible vinyl tubing with a 1/2" Outside Diameter and a 3/8" Inside Diameter. Pushing clay through the hose was very difficult. Ultimately I went for a very different design which is documented here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TomLauerman

Would it be possible to feed the system with a simple weight? - Adding 20pounds on top of the piston should create some pressure - maybe enough to push the clay to the printhead, and it's free and should provide a constant pressure.

Think it would work?

Personally, I don't think this would work. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and prove me wrong!

Hello Lauhaus,
Beautifull setup. I would love to go for clay printing.
I have a question in regard of the clay print finishing.
Is it possible after the print is completed to smoothen the print erasing the layer ?

if you glaze the piece it would cover most off the layers up... or you can VERY gently smooth it with a wet/water soft paintbrush

Is this auger system compatible with delta printers?

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Yes. It would work just fine with a Delta.

Can you send the complet system? Feeder and extruder? Aldo i would like the instructions to assembly parts on eletronics and software. Thanks. Daniel

Hello Danielandrada, I am constantly changing the system. I post my updates here: https://plus.google.com/+TomLauerman

I will continue to change the design of the system frequently for some time. I plan to write soon about my approach and observations, but I am not planning to develop assembly instructions unless the design settles down a lot. The print head published here could be used on any number of machine types.

Hello danielandrada,

The system is constantly evolving, I post lots of updates here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TomLauerman

A bill of materials from May is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Bc_LQie3h8EKsGv4m-hJrDE5OOu5FUHCoEgbsUiPSZ0/edit?usp=sharing

I cannot provide assembly instructions presently as I continue to change the design and the software.

I plan to write up a number of thoughts about the approaches I have taken, but I suspect I may never fully settle on a particular design. I enjoy tinkering with the design, adding capabilities, etc.

How would you control the feeder motor? Not from the printer motherboard right? You woud have to use an independent controler..but how?

Hello Federgarrido, the feeder motor is controlled from the control board. It is synchronized via firmware with the print head and runs off of the same 12v power supply, via a larger stepper motor driver. I will document this in coming weeks, but it works very well.

so the 2 steppers (extruder & feeder) run on the same board connection? How do you syncronize both feedrates?

Yes, that's correct. They are synchronized by using color mixing commands in the Repetier firmware. Basically, the controller adjusts the motor steps for both motors on the fly, keeping them synchronized despite spinning at different speeds. Their feedrates can be adjusted independently without going out of sync, crazy as that sounds. I do hope to document this properly soon.

cool! Just curious, which type of motor do you use on the feeder system?

I use a Nema 23 motor with a 15:1 gearbox for the feeder motor. IT provides 7nm of torque, which seems to be a lot.

what about chocolate, the clay thing looks very cool and I think your design is brilliant compared to the people using syringes but if im printing with a paste id much rather print chocolate than clay. does anyone here think this could work.

Chocolate would almost certainly be possible. I haven't tried it, and will be keeping my focus on clay. You should try it. I imagine you'd need to heat and melt the chocolate in addition to extruding it.

Thanks for the heads-up. There are lots of folks working on clay printing, this design looks most like the WASP group design:

At any rate, my research is focused presently on a system that does not use air compression:


I'd rather not get involved in trying to make money on a hardware system, as it is inevitably a race to the bottom (as the $165 price tag in the article makes clear).

I think clay printing will see tremendous growth and improvement in the next 5 years, primarily from open source activity. Given that clay is really cheap and generic, I'd be surprised to see a major company get involved as there is no filament to sell.

Also, it may be a small group of people who have interest in printing with clay and access to the knowledge and tools needed to really get somewhere with it. As an artist, I'd be much more alarmed if someone was knocking off the artwork I make. I'll always keep the tools and tool development open source.

Its funny how every kickstarter gets news, but the free, open source items that actually blazed the trail are overlooked

This article gives credit where it is due:


If anyone is interested, I've posted a few thoughts about open source clay printing here:


My apologies, it seems I spoke too rashly.

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Would you mind giving a little more detail as to the length of the lag screw and how far it goes into the tip? I'm in the process of building this and need a little more detail. Also is the hole in the face of the motor mount part for lubricating the lag screw? If so, why does to hole stop short of going all the way through.

Nice and clean setup bye the way I like it a lot.

Thanks! The length of the screw is 77mm. The hole is a remnant from a previous iteration, it has no function in this design. Oh, and the screw extends 25mm past the end of the printed part, into the tip. I've uploaded an image that shows this. Hope that helps. I'm still working on a mechanical feed system to get the clay to the print head. It is constantly evolving but I'm hoping to post info about it soon, in the meantime here's what it basically entails:



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Any tips on the viscosity of the clay you are mixing?

I've tried a lot of variations in clay viscosity, and will try many more. Softer clay is far easier to move through the system as it requires less force to push. Stiffer clay yields a better print. Presently I am using regular stoneware clay which I soften up a little bit by adding some water and wedging. It is sticky but not fluid. That's vague I know, but I don't have more precise way of describing this at the moment. My best advice is to start with something really soft, and gradually work toward stiffer clay.

I think buying a premix stoneware clay and working in a measured amount of water is a good idea. Starting from scratch seems like it would yield inconsistent results. Ill just have to play. Does porcelain flow any better then stoneware.

I would like to stick with the compressor design at first to see if its something I really want to commit time and money to. Is the motor version that much better.

Porcelain doesn't necessarily flow better than stoneware or for that matter terracotta. Porcelain tends to absorb water a little quicker and might be slightly easier to prepare, but not noticeably. Stoneware is a bit cheaper, and more durable post-printing (in the event you want to alter the object or do repairs after the printing.)

The compressor designs out there are easier to get started with. Cheaper too, assuming you have already an air compressor.

However, I do believe in the long run a motorized system is better, for many reasons. Others would disagree I'm sure. Given that there isn't yet a good roadmap for building and using a motorized system, starting with compressed air is wise. Just be sure to keep the pressure out of a range that could cause any part of the system to burst, pressure can be intense. If using air, definitely work with softer clay.

Thanks, yeah Ive got quit of experience with building pneumatic systems with PVC. It works great if you have a fail safe so it doesn't get over pressurized and explode.

Great, let me know how it goes!

I tried Googling what different nozzle sizes were in millimeters and had no luck. What size nozzles are you using and which one is about one millimeter?
You guys are doing awesome work!

Good point, they are not listed in mm but using a numbering system. I had to use a digital calipers to measure the opening of the nozzles. I will put together a kind of conversion chart as a reference, unless I can find one somewhere - but thus far I haven't come across such a thing. The smallest nozzle I have used is a 00, followed by 0,1,2, etc. These are typically called "writing" tips.

For anyone interested in this project, I wanted to let you know the clay "feed" system (the thing that moves the clay to this print head) is almost ready after totally reworking it to eliminate the need for compressed air : https://youtu.be/XcuTXSQXdlg

Wonderful! Great Job!

For a hobbyist i dont think you need to worry about osha, its up to each person to decide. if you were trying to sell it then yes. Im curious how the air compressed system works.

Hello, I agree an OSHA raid on my house is unlikely. In addition to being a safety hazard, the air pressure system was expensive (a good air compressor isn't cheap), noisy, and somewhat inconsistent (prone to leaks, and pressure surges). So safety is just one reason to ditch the air compression system.

I'm actively working on a mechanical system which will give greater control, operate more quietly, be much more safe, and perhaps be less expensive. Because I'm not selling this as a product, as you mention, I also have the luxury of getting it right versus rushing it out.

Thanks for your patience. In meantime, if you want to know how the air compressed system worked, it worked just like this guy's "boilie gun" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCiphvlKX4

If I can't get a mechanical system going I'll likely buy or make an metal "boilie gun" to replace my PVC contraption. http://www.midlandcarp.com/index.php/our-products

Any idea when you'll publish information on the clay delivery system?

Bad news. I did a little homework and leaned that PVC pipe is not recommended for pressurized air systems.

Link: https://www.osha.gov/dts/hib/hib_data/hib19880520.html

My delivery system does use PVC to contain compressed air, and the delivery system is therefore unsafe. I won't be posting that prototype design.

I will now redesign the delivery tube using a more suitable material. I am also hoping to use a motor driven piston rather than an air compression system. It may be several weeks before I work all this out.

Some folks use what's called a "boilie gun" to push the clay along. Here's an example: http://www.ghebelcarp.it/estrusione/estrusore-pneumatico-manuale-da-3-kg/

Yes, I'll try and get that up this week. The delivery system is made mostly out of PVC pipe which is all fused together, so to document it I have to build a new one - which I want to do anyhow because I'd like to do dual extrusion. The delivery system I am presently using relies on an air compressor to push a plunger through a cylinder. It works OK, but I am working on a stepper driven system which w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ will be more reliable.

How would you determine the steps per mm? This is a really cool project by the way, i cant wait for the feeder

Thanks! Still figuring out how calibrate, but on the plus side the prints are working - so its a case of having it working in practice while struggling to make it work in theory.

Fantastic - thanks for your contribution...

what is the base printer you've used for this build?

Nice! Can you post video of it printing as well?

video added 5/28/2016