If you’ve got a 3D printer of your own, the chances are good that is uses the fused-filament fabrication (FFF) printing process. That means that it works by feeding thermoplastic filament into a hot end, where it’s melted and deposited onto the build plate. While there are a lot of filament types out there, they’re all thermoplastic formulations.
If you want to print other types of materials, the StoneFlower conversion kit looks very promising. The kit includes a syringe pump and an extrusion nozzle which can be used to print a wide variety of materials. It doesn’t use a hot end, but instead deposits material entirely mechanically. So, any highly-viscous material can be used—it simply physically pushes the substance through the nozzle, and relies on the viscosity to keep the print stable.
It can be used with clay, paste, paint, and even food. Really anything that can be mechanically pumped can potentially be used, but to achieve decent results you’ll want to use something viscous enough that it will maintain its shape during the printing the process. If you were printing clay, for example, you would then put the print in a pottery oven afterwards to harden it.
The StoneFlower kit is on Kickstarter until February 14th, but has already exceeded it’s funding goal. If you want to back the campaign, the standard kit will run you about $490. You can expect delivery in April.