This video shows the 3D printing process used to fabricate ceramic espresso coffee cups designed by Bernat Cuní. Credit: Shapeways; YouTube.

Additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping technologies are gaining ground as advanced manufacturing methods. Just last week we reported on solid freeform fabrication of one-piece fused silica molds for investment casting.

Artistic minds have also discovered the versatility of additive manufacturing.

Gizmag reports on a project by Spanish designer Bernat Cuní to create 30 unique espresso coffee cups in 30 days using 3D ceramic printing. On his website, Cuní describes himself as “Currently engaged in experimenting [with] the fields of generative design, creative code and rapid manufacturing. I’m particularly interested in the future of design and the popularization of the design process and tools.”

In the story, Cuni says he began the project as a proof-of-concept, using additive manufacturing “in order to achieve something unthinkable some time ago: Create a product from the idea to the consumer in less than 24 hours.” The story describes the project.

Construction of each cup takes about four hours and begins with the deposition of an organic binder on a bed of ceramic powder. Once that layer is completed, more ceramic powder is distributed on top, then more binder and so on until the model is complete. The entire matrix is then heated in an oven, which solidifies the binder-laden powder. The unbound ceramic material is then cleaned away from the solidified cup and it’s prepared for the next several steps in the process.

At this point, the cup is solid but delicate, and so must be fired in a kiln at high temperature to permanently lock in the structure. The piece emerges with a rough surface, which is pre-glazed with a water-based spray, then re-fired in the kiln at a lower temperature. This smooths the surface a bit and paves the way for the final glaze coat, which is sprayed on, as well. After the final firing, the cup takes on that familiar shiny, durable surface we’ve come to expect from traditional ceramics.

The full collection can be viewed at Cuní’s website, where he has posted a gallery showing each day’s cup, beginning with Day 00, the Basic cup. The designs are funky and fun, and their titles are just as delightful. Check out, for example, the Klein Bottle cup, the Helveticup or the Octo cup.

If you need to have one, visit the website of Shapeways, a partner with Cuní. Shapeways is a start-up company that specializes in customized 3D printing. According to their website, “we’re bringing personalized production to everyone.”

The cups are small (about 1.5 inch diameter), food-safe, heat-resistant, recyclable and glazed, but not cheap. Prices range from $36 to $81. .