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3D Printed Ceramic Oil Lamp

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Picture of 3D Printed Ceramic Oil Lamp
old lamp lit.jpg
You can 3D-print ceramic now!  Therefore I want to make an oil lamp.

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
 
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Step 1: Design

What features does an oil lamp need?  Well it has to hold some oil.  It should be safe to handle while lit, and stable enough to not tip over.  You need a big hole to fill it and a small hole for a wick.  The oil reservoir wants to be wide rather than tall, because the wick wants to sit right on top of the oil, so you want the oil level to drop slowly.  I'm appreciating this old lamp more and more.

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.
badideasrus19 days ago

a great read, intersting idea. i've always wanted to find something to do with the ceramic from shapeways. an oil lamp might be the ticket..

a few suggestions! regular oil lamp wicks shoudl be available at your local walmart. the oil lamp stuff in mine is near the picture frames, mirrors, and other house decor. look for incense and the like, that's where they stash it. also, practicaly any store with an auto section (again, walmart) will sell a variety of funnels for pouring oil into cars, which would work perfectly for filling your lamp. many have a diagonal mouth so that you can tilt the funnel and get it into that hard to reach hole!

i'm not exaclty knowledgeable on the subject, but swaping to a different wick material might let you draw oil from deeper in your lamp, extending your burn time.

Kiteman2 years ago
That is really nice, well done.

(It would be really cool if you could add the files for the lamp, so that other folk can add this gorgeous item to their homes.)
bathsheba (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
I apologize, I can't put the 3D file online because this is actually my job.  Best I can do is that you can get physical models at my Shapeways shop.
hogwash, i say. it doesnt have to be the exact file. it could be last years carbage, as well. pple are wanting a file some thing they can down load. say like bowl with 3 legs oil fill zone and a wick zone. that's made to be 1 layer thick. an u put a warning in there that say print an use this at yr own risk.
Ah, I understand.

Perhaps a future, more basic project could be open-source to give folk a taste of what they can achieve themselves...
Check out Grabcad.com
They have a ceramic 3D printing design challenge going on right now. Most, if not all models are open source and come in a variety of formats.
Thanks for the heads up!

I did apply and WON the competition with one of my Glazed Ceramics designs called "Sands of Time Vase":
http://grabcad.com/library/sands-of-time-glazed-ceramics

You are all free to download it and 3D print it at ponoko.com (for USA)
or http://i.materialise.com for Europe (i dont like shapeways quality so i dont recommend them)

For my other free Math Art design files checkout:
http://grabcad.com/dizingof


Cheers

Yeah i just uploaded my "Gyroid Vase for Glazed Ceramics" to Grabcad.com
ceramic 3D printing design challenge.

http://grabcad.com/library/gyroid-vase-glazed-ceramics

You can all download the STL file and 3D print it at Ponoko.com
(I personally dont like shapeways low quality prints but they are a bit cheaper than Ponoko.com)

Thanks.
Well i decided to make one and share it as open source file :
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:19947

Enjoy

bathsheba (author)  dizingof2 years ago
Dizingof's design is not an accurate copy of this one. It's also illustrated with my photos, used without permission or credit.

I'd suggest designing your own -- as you see from the last step here, there's lots of room for improvement.
Licence in the info box above:

Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)

= permission ?
Yes, as long as you give credit to the source (he did), avoid making a profit from it (check), and allows others to use your version the same way (check).
Mine was not meant to be an accurate copy of yours, i gave it my own style - its a base file for others to view,improve or directly 3D print.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:19947

Credit was given. with direct link to this page. plus mentioning the author's name. (that's how 'giving credit' is done on the web..)

Good luck with your shop..


Oh, that's good!

(I've even Tweeted it!)
I uploaded version 2 - which has the original looks

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:19947


Enjoy.


bathsheba (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
I hope so. If people like this one, then I can pursue this direction, which would be fun...everything's better when it's on fire.
"Everything's better when it's on fire."

You ought to put that on a shirt!
rambalaji20069 months ago
you can use Rhino plugin called "MathPlugin" and it can be downloaded from: http://www.rhino3.de/_develop/__v3_plugins/math/

and surface mathematical equations are here http://rhino3.de/_develop/__v3_plugins/math/library.shtml

create it in rhino and editing can be done in any 3DCAD software, like adding thickness, fillets etc.,

----
Buvanesh
wolfkeeper2 years ago
Cool design.

One thought, if you add oil voids above the flame, and shape the area inside to add an inner lip, if you design it right, if somebody turns it over, more or less all of the oil will end up in the voids rather than in your lap.
bathsheba (author)  wolfkeeper2 years ago
An ingenious plan! I think it won't work because a supermajority of the oil is below the holes -- there's not enough volume above them to contain it -- but I'll keep this idea on file in case of future mess. Meanwhile, keeping it lit at all times seems to help.
If you extend the fill holes into a tube and put the other end of the tube in an airspace above the level of the oil (particularly if it's near the center of the device, and/or it crosses over the centerline from where it started) then it won't come out if you tilt it at all, or with a more constrained shape you could at least make it so you have to turn it upside-down in order to make it leak, most people won't do that.
blodefood2 years ago
Cool, funky design! I have heard that peanut oil is good for this sort of oil lamp and floating oil candles.
They have tiny funnels for filling Coleman lanterns and what have you, might give you an idea for filling, perhaps even a custom printed funnel to match the lamp. I like the lamp though, nifty is the word that springs to mind.
bathsheba (author)  MissouriVillian2 years ago
That's smart about the funnel. Thanks. At Wickstore.com I found them at like .50 a shot if you buy quantity. I agree they could be printed, but I think China is going to win this one on price.
Mat302 years ago
and old one was more easy to fire one from another but I like what you tried!:-)
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