I have had quite a few questions about the clay used for 3D printing. On the 3D Potter site, you will find instructions on how to add water to make existing clay bodies more moist so they work well with the clay printer. Your clay can be too dry, and also too wet! Like the Three Little Bears and their porridge—or in this case, their clay—has gotta be juuuust right!
Once you get the clay consistency, it’s very important that when it goes into the tubes, there are no air bubbles or air pockets. The air bubbles will make the printer stutter and stammer and create mistakes.
There are a few different ways to go. You can load the tubes from a pug mill, or from a wall-mounted extruder, or by hand.
My local community ceramics studio owns a pug mill, which is a pressurized clay mixer, pump, de-airer, and extruder. Most ceramics studios and large commercial pottery creators use these. The video above shows the pug mill in action. It is mixing the clay and extra water, and Dini Dixon, our studio manager, is plugging the mouth to create pressure on the clay before we load a tube. It’s part of the process to eliminate air bubbles. I should mention that we purchased an adapter from 3D Potter that perfectly holds the tube once it’s put into place.
Here you see the clay starting to come out on its own. This is what you wait for before you put the tube on the adapter. The tube screws on, and you fill it with enough room to put the stoppers into each end.
There are way better videos on 3D Potter’s site about this process!
Here is a hand-loading video on YouTube.
Hope this helps!