Ceramic Morphologies: 3D Printing on Ceramic Tile

Jan 2, 2018

Harvard University researchers and students from the Material Processes and Systems (MaP+S) group once again delighted visitors to the Trans-Hitos exhibit at CEVISAMA (2017) with their new project entitled “Ceramic Morphologies.”

The new installation, supported by the Ceramic Technology Institute (Institution de Tecnología Cerámica, ITC) in Castellón, Spain, explored the design opportunities of a novel ceramic 3D printing strategy. The project is a prototype for the additive manufacturing of ceramic building components in an industrial scale. 


The pavilion showcased the expressive potential of ceramic 3D printing, and tested the adaptation of principles of thermodynamic heat transfer to 3D printed geometry. The shape and design are products of current research related to the thermal performance of naturally ventilated spaces – the result of a collaboration with Salman Craig and Matan Mayer from the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.


Its pyramid shape facilitates upward air movement, and the interior geometry impacts the thermal exchange between ambient air and the interior mass/surface. The contoured, sinusoidal texture of the interior surface is designed to optimize the ratio of surface area to thermal mass, and maximize the potential for cooling through natural ventilation and buoyancy effects.

The project utilizes a proprietary clay extrusion system and 3-axis armature to produce each of the pavilion’s unique ceramic elements. Measuring 3m tall , with a foot print of 3.2m x 3.6m, the pavilion consists of 552 unique elements ranging from 260-545mm in length, and 70-150mm in height. 184 elements, representing 1/3 of the entire structure, are displayed in the current configuration. Gaps between pieces allow for tolerances in the production. 


In total, the 184 printed elements displayed required 358 hours of printing time, and include 19.84km of extruded clay bead. The work of the Network of Ceramic Studies Department has improved the productive sector with projects that have implications for the whole industry and fill the needs of this new era. 

This story was originally published in Ceraspaña 39, a journal published by ASCER/Tile of Spain to promote the use and benefits of Spanish ceramic tiles in contemporary architecture and interior design. Read the article and view past issues HERE.


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