3D Printing and Fabrics: The Unique Design Process Behind the Forma Fabrica Vase Collection

Published on August 23, 2023 by Michael M.
The Forma Fabrica collection by Nir Neria

With the ever-broadening use of additive manufacturing, the role of the 3D printer has spread from the factory floor to the art studio and beyond, with the 3D printer serving as a medium through which new artistic, conceptual and cultural creations have arisen. Indeed, 3D scanning technologies have provided people around the world with the opportunity to reconstruct masterful works of art while even providing opportunities for digitally preserving global heritage. The 3D printer is not always in the spotlight however, and it is in these supporting roles that it can help facilitate the creation of new designs and concepts which has seen the 3D printer becoming a common tool in the arsenals of designers, artists and artisans. Such is the case in the latest work by industrial designer and material translator, Nir Neria.

The Forma Fabrica collection is a reimagining of the classical porcelain vase which explores the relationship between different materials and designs. The process involves a ceramic forming method known as slip casting, which allows for the creation of more complex shapes. Traditionally, this would require the use of a plaster mold which would be filled with the liquid porcelain before hardening. Nir Neria has transformed the process into a truly 21st century affair which combines creativity, eco-responsibility and technology by utilizing 3D printing and fabrics to create a new, unique and reusable mold.

Forma Fabrica Brings 3D Printing Into Vase Design

The process begins with computer aided design, or CAD, software, creating an image wherein the vessel is rendered in 3D. During this stage, it is possible to determine the shape of each required piece as well as precisely how they will fit together. Next, the pieces of the mold structure are extruded via 3D printing and are connected to the fabric which is sewn together by the artist. Together, the fabric and 3D printed pieces form the mold which is ready for porcelain slip casting. The liquid porcelain is poured into the mold, and then pumped back out after a layer has formed on the inner walls of the fabric. Having reached the desired firmness, the mold can be disassembled and the piece is ready for the kiln.

The utilization of fabric as a molding material allows for a truly visually striking form in both shape and texture. The imprint of the cloth, stitching and wrinkles that define the fabric are immediately visible on the outside of the vessels. This provides the viewer with a fascinating juxtaposition of one’s perception of its weight and malleability. Additional pigments applied to the inner fabrics before casting add another dimension with the infusion of color, giving the impression of marbling, or even denim. Furthermore, the mold is reusable and the use of 3D printed parts in its support structure allow for a large degree of customizability. The advantages of this modular design are clear; a plethora of uniquely shaped and positioned pieces which all can be made with a few initial parts.

On the left, the modular design of the 3D printed mold. On the right, a finished piece with its unique fabric-like appearance

Left, the modular design of the 3D printed mold allows for custom shapes. Right, a finished piece with its unique fabric-like appearance (photo credits: Nir Neria)

Forma Fabrica is a further addition to Nir Neria’s growing list of innovative design collections, of which 3D printing and sustainable biomaterials has recently been a prominent part of the showcase. You can learn more about Nir Neria and the collections HERE.

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*Cover Photo Credits: Nir Neria

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