Department of


Arch 433: Potterbot

Course: Arch 433
Students Involved: Daniel Cowden and Alex Hochstetler


When approaching this project, a desire to create a model for potential manufacturing that could implement  a vertical garden system through an adoption of the traditional brick.


The first iteration sent through the Potterbot, though successful in its structure, had a front face that was far too complex for the resolution of the printer technology. Featuring five smaller bulbous shapes on the front face, the interior depths of each were virtually eliminated with the layer height used with the smallest print nozzle (3.5mm). In addition to the complex front face, the rest of the brick’s weight caused serious slumping to occur.


The second print featured a significant design alteration, primarily focused on the simplification of the soil container., moving from five small geometry to one large container on the front face of the brick.  This print was primarily used to test printing thickness as well as interior geometry.  Once again, using the 3.5mm nozzle, the models simplicity and evenly distributed front face, as well as more fan coverage (increasing dry speed), reduced slumping. With this model came a few failures. One, the rectilinear nature of the model was asking the Potterbot to create 90 degree angles, which seemingly works against how the machine prefers. The most significant failure came with the machines lack of printing the interior. Outside the exterior closed loop, the Potterbot refused to print any other geometries within the model. and coding could be adapted by the time of printing. As further research and program coordination continued, problems including a lack of retraction on the Potterbot machine was causing a myriad of problems. With the necessity of  an interior geometry (in order to hold soil and support plants/herbs), the model needed to be adapted into two prints. This model was adapted.


The final print used the previously modeled brick’s exterior as a shell for the overall shape. This included rounded corners and a large sweeping front face which would serve as the cup to hol  g the prints to fail. With a small decrease in size and a switch to the larger 6.5mm nozzle at 1 layer, with a slower move speed, the exterior print was successful.


The interior portion of the final print was designed in such a way to match the downward interior slopes of the first print for a simple insertion, lining up within the center. This portion serves as the structural support, managing tensions around the exterior shell, as well as simply creating a back face to hold soil and support plants/herbs. A small hole was designed in at the bottom of the “cup” created with these two prints to allow watershed to move to other bricks.

Lastly, the two prints share a curved line which create a no tolerance connection when stacked as traditional bricks, closing the system.

February 1, 2018 10:23 am

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