- Taekyeom Lee is a graphic designer who built 3D printers to make intricate pieces of pottery.
- The process is mesmerising to watch, and the machine is able to make extremely detailed shapes.
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Following is a transcript of the video:
Narrator: 3D printing is changing what it means to work with our hands. It has been used in medicine, food, and even to build homes. Pottery is typically made using our hands, so what can 3D printers do that we can’t, and how can they change the kind of pottery we make? Taekyeom Lee is a designer and researcher who is combining technology with this handmade craft, turning it into something new. With no prior background in robotics, he taught himself to build and use 3D printers to create ceramic pieces. It all started when Taekyeom graduated from graphic-design school. He no longer had access to their studios, so he bought a do-it-yourself 3D printer.
Taekyeom Lee: When I started working with this one, the tool wasn’t even available, so I decided to make my own tool. First, the printer took about like a few months to put it together and then properly run it. Once I learned how to work with 3D printers, I decided to build one dedicated for clay. People may think I’m a kind of computer guy, but I’m not really. I’m really good at working with hands. I think that helped me to make these tools.
Narrator: His tools could change the way we work with clay. Taekyeom loves all things letters, fonts, and signage. A letter’s complex shapes can now be created thanks to the intricate designs of his printers.
Taekyeom: Mainly, graphic design is about communication. To communicate with other people, we use kind of signs.
Narrator: His process tests the strength and intricacy of the printer and the clay.
Taekyeom: My first assumption was actually the simple shape survives better during the printing process and firing process, but I was wrong. Actually, the details and a more complex pattern on the surface helps to keep it to shape. So one of my latest explorations about like designing complex, kind of repetitive patterns, like a surface pattern, so it could be survived better. First of all, I need to design something on computer, which is using CAD software, and when design is done, you need to export it as STL file, which is stereolithograph. It’s gonna create a triangular mesh. It has the XYZ values, so it knows where to move this kind of machine’s arm or nozzle. I have a 5-foot-tall giant printer, so load the clay to the canister, and in this case, I have to be careful because I don’t want to add any big air bubble in it, like small air bubbles will be fine, but I just do this manually. It’s not just kind of clicking, and then I can stay away because I have to basically, next step is babysitting. I sit next to the printer and then check, make sure everything’s right. If something happens, I need to kind of kill the job and then start over or, you know, I don’t know what might happen. When it completely dry, I can fire it and then glaze it and fire it again, which is 2232° F. Because I’m a designer, many people ask me, you know, how it can be functional, how it can be useful, how it can be practical. So I’ve been always thinking about those as well, but as I said, I just love exploration. I think now I know like a lot about this field, how it can be used. I’m thinking it can be used for kind of public sculpture, or it can be even used for signage. I’m always looking for some exhibition opportunities.
Narrator: Taekyeom says that good design is about communication. The more inventive his pottery is, the easier it will be for him to find new ways to use design to communicate. 3D printers probably won’t be replacing humans for a long time. We are learning that they don’t necessarily do our jobs better, just differently. Taekyeom’s pottery doesn’t tell us to replace how we do things but explore ways to add onto them.
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