Shapeways recently added porcelain to their range of 3D-printable materials, so I decided to send off one of my Platonic solid planter designs to test it out. The porcelain itself isn’t actually 3D-printed — they print a mold, then cast the porcelain into the mold to produce the object — so it’s technically not much more futuristic than your garden-variety slip casting. That doesn’t make it any less mindblowing to send off a design and have it come back in ceramic.
The final product is very nice, with a clean casting and a nice weighty feel. My only real criticism would be that the edges of the octahedron came out a little sharper than they were in the 3D model; however, that’s a relatively minor detail that’s probably more noticeable because of the matte black glaze. The turnaround time from ordering to receiving the printed part was also longer than I’d like, but that’s just because I’m impatient. Three weeks for a custom cast and glazed part isn’t bad at all.
The turnaround time does complicate the process of revising a design, and not being able to easily edit and re-print a design takes a little getting used to. Shapeways provides a helpful guide to how their glazes look on raised or embossed text, but I wish they went a bit more in-depth and showed examples of how the glazes behave on other features (curves of different radii, slopes, cutouts) to make it a bit easier to design for porcelain.
That said, I’m happy overall with how the octahedron planter turned out, and I’ll almost certainly send off the other Platonic solids at some point. If you happen to want an octahedron planter of your own, I’ve made them available via Shapeways.