I have an ancient lamp made of clay. There's no way I'm going to improve on the thousands of years of collective design embedded in it, but maybe I can make some new mistakes.
This Instructable is about what I learned while trying. It doesn't cover CAD technique or how to do 3D printing, and this project calls for some prior knowledge of those, but this was my first try with the ceramic material, and I see no reason it shouldn't be yours too. You'll need:
- CAD software and the will to use it
- Some money for the 3D print
- Oil, e.g. olive or peanut
- A wick, e.g. a piece of string
- A bit of hardware for a wick holder
Step 1: Design
What are the guidelines for designing 3DP ceramic? I'm getting this from Shapeways, so I punt to their page on how to use this material. One important rule is that when you have an enclosed space, you need at least a 10-15mm hole so the interior can be depowdered. Picture people reaching through the hole with dental picks, trying to touch every part of the interior: if they can't do this easily, your part fails.
I decided to make my lamp fairly simple. It's trilaterally symmetrical because I make everything like that. It has three fill holes, which should be plenty for easy depowdering. It has a central volume to hold the oil, and it thins out to solid edges which should be safe to handle and thick enough to print well. I put some decorative dots on the bottom lobes, I'm not sure how well those will come out.
It's shaped like an Enneper surface. I used Surface Evolver, which is freeware intended for mathematicians, to generate the main body. I modeled the holes, bullnose edges, decorations and interior fillets in Rhinoceros. Then I exported the whole thing to an STL file, and used Materialise Magics to clean up the mesh. My software toolbox looks like this for historical reasons (the last update to Evolver was in 2008) but there's no reason yours should look the same. De gustibus -- your lamp probably won't look like mine either!
To console myself while I wait for the print, I made a realistic image using Maxwell Render. Again, I use this software because I like it and I'm in the habit: not saying it's the best, it's a matter of taste. I got the candle-flame light effect from their material library.