3D printed terra-cotta bricks: does this make any sense?

There are many things I loved about reading this and I wish I could play with a terra-cotta 3D printer for a bit. But the actual use-case seems completely pointless to me, other than to get some PR. Wouldn’t it be way faster and more efficient to cast these blocks? Creating umpteen identical pieces really doesn’t seem like a good fit for 3D printing, but perhaps I don’t understand something here. Now if they had designed walls with interesting shapes and then cut them up and 3D printed those pieces, which might all be different, then I’d understand. Sigh.


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100% agree. This could be done faster by 3d printing a mold and then using the mold (or molds!) to rapidly cast many of these. 3d printing is best for complexity and one-offs. Mass production sometimes (e.g. Prusa) but for this? Nope.

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Some shapes are hard to cast but yeah, if they’re making shapes that can be cast and they’re making more than a handful of each shape then it’d probably be cheaper to cast them.
That said, there’s a lot to be said for tools that are slower than manual methods but require less human time. I could see a service like Shapeways that accepts random designs, has a human check them for printability, and then sends the print to a farm where someone is simultanously tending dozens of ceramics printers.

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Especially Tera-Cotta/clay has been form cast since before Christ. But the fact that they can implement a screw drive to push the material through an orfice small enough to print these is the cool part for me. Besides, these are not bricks… They are stackable and hollow so that you can use them as stacking planters ie, a garden wall with vegetables growing out of them… Yes, they can be form cast much faster than 3D printed, but then what would you do with your tera-cotta 3D printer???

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I totally agree that the process is really cool and interesting! I really wish I could ‘borrow’ one of these printers for a few months to play with and make stuff for my garden.
But I find it such a shame that they showcase it with a stupid project that could have been done just fine with casting (I don’t think the resulting garden is stupid just the match with 3D printing isn’t there).
In terms of labor, the process took 2 or 3 months of printing (I forget) so it’s not like this was fast and I can’t imagine that feeding and caring for a bunch of these printers is all that labor efficient.