3D printed rocket-ship espresso cup

Shapeways contributor Isohedral came up with this awesome design for a two ounce stubby rocketship/espresso cup, which is available as a 3D print in ceramic:

Rocket Espresso Cup 3D Printed in Ceramics All Systems Are Go!!!!


  1. Clever, maybe they could add an upper berth (lid) to keep your beverage warm and to complete the effect.

    1. Yeah, I definitely thought about making a lid, and of course a saucer with a built-in gantry.  But this was really just a first experiment, and anyway, the ceramic printing process is still expensive enough that I needed to keep it simple.  You can see that I also created a lego-inspired cup-and-saucer http://www.shapeways.com/model/576946/ , but that’s expensive enough that I’m unlikely to order it any time soon.

  2. Very, very cool.  Can I purchase 2 or 4 of these things so I don’t have to go out and buy a 3d printer? EDIT: whoops, should have browsed instead of typed.

    1. OK, I gather you found the model on Shapeways.  You can order it there, but you might want to hold off for a couple of days — since I took the photos, the glaze has developed cracks.  Shapeways is going to look into it.

      Glad you like it!

      1. Craig,get some Italian ceramic producers on the phone NOW please :) I can probably get you some numbers from around Modena if you need them. Just patent the damn design first. I know I’d buy it!

        1. That could be fun.  I would enjoy working with a manufacturer to see this object mass produced.    But there’s no way I’m going to patent it.  That’s too much time and effort, and even if the cup is wildly successful it’s doubtful I’d recoup the costs.  If that means that some manufacturer steals the design, I suppose my best recourse is simply to be flattered (and maybe buy a few!).

          I’m not opposed to partnering with someone who wants to work out the details of getting the cup manufactured, if they felt there was a business case for it.  I suppose the sexy approach would be to fund the up-front manufacturing costs ourselves via a kickstarter project (see Daneel’s comment below for an example).  Mass production would offer one other very important benefit over Shapeways — the ability to glaze the fins in bright red!

    1. Indeed. I visited the link in the post thinking it might be nice to buy a couple, and didn’t find the place where it was on sale. Prompted by an above comment I found the link at the site (it doesn’t say it’s a link to buy it), but at $40 they might as well not bother – too much by at least 100% for my taste, more like 200%. I hope they move forward with production in some fashion that makes it available to the casual purchaser, and I don’t care whether the consumer version is 3D-printed.

      (and, of course, with proper, durable glazing)

      1. Hey, it’s my cup, and I also think it’s too expensive.  In fact, it cost me quite a bit more than $40 when you factor in shipping and the idiotic extra fees UPS charges to bring things into Canada.  My goal was never to create a new market for rocket espresso cups (as awesome as that would be) — I’ve already got a more-than-full-time job, thanks.  It was really just a fun design experiment, one that could (at least in theory) be shared with the world.

        Shapeways is great (nay, spectacular) for prototyping, not for mass production.  While I’d love to corner the espresso cup market with innovative new designs, there really is no “they” to “move forward with production” — I’m just a guy.  I guess I could try calling a couple of manufacturers.  Anyway, glad you like the design.

    2. Nice design!  I had sketched a few “floating” designs like that one.  But I think that even if I modelled it, it wouldn’t print well at Shapeways.  I don’t understand their ceramic printing process in every detail, but I suspect it would collapse before you could bake it.

  3. Definitely cool looking little cups. But, I have to wonder if they couldn’t be produced at lower cost using regular ceramic techniques?

    1. Yeah, but the price for 3D printing is continuously coming down, and eventually we’ll all be able to design our own ceramic stuff and print it out at a reasonable price. Most things on Shapeways aren’t even purchased by their own designers (though this guy obviously did get at least one printed).

      1. Yeah, I made this particular model knowing that I would order one for myself.  You can see in my “shop” that most of the models I have on offer have never been printed (though I certainly know Shapeways users who have huge collections of printed objects; henryseg has been featured on boingboing before, for example).

        You’re right that the cost of ceramic 3D printing will eventually come down.  But I doubt it will ever match straightforward casting for any reasonable quantities.

        1.  Craig, can you clear up something for me? Reading the description of the process, it appears that the cup is made from a type of material that is not fired. It’s dried. Correct? Is the glaze fired?

          I’m wondering if the cracking you’re experiencing is a result of the body not undergoing the tempering and hardening that firing imparts to traditional ceramics?

    1. Ah, the place where style meets ergonomics — good question!  With espresso, I generally just hold onto the cup directly, even if there’s a handle, so it’s a non-issue.  I think I tried and found that you could hold onto it by the fin, but I think the balance would be a little unusual.  I guess I’ll try again next time I fill that cup…

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