Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface

Project Team

Principal Investigator: Professor Martin Smith
Co-Investigator: Dr Peter Oakley
Researcher: Dr Steve Brown
Administrator: Christine Swift

This research project brings together a consortium of pioneers of 2D ceramic toner laser transfer printing to explore the potentials for scale, economies and a new aesthetic within the UK commercial production for the printed ceramic surface. The project is being led by RCA academics in partnership with commercial and industrial companies in the UK and Germany. Staff in the School of Applied Arts at the Royal College of Art are collaborating with MZTT, inventor and patent holder of the laser printed ceramic transfer process, their British partner Digital Ceramic Systems and two industrial ceramic manufacturers: Royal Crown Derby and Steelite International.

Professor Martin Smith of the RCA, an expert in combining ceramics and print, is the project’s Principal Investigator. Dr Peter Oakley, who specialises in ethnographic research on manufacturing industries, is Co-Investigator. He is undertaking the ethnographic fieldwork and an analysis of the social implications of adopting this technology. Dr Steve Brown, whose PhD (funded by the AHRC) was focused on potential applications of digital print to complex ceramic forms, is Senior Research Associate based in the project’s dedicated digital print studio at the RCA’s new Battersea campus.

Project outputs will include conference presentations, exhibitions, school and open outreach workshops and a symposium. The planned publications will provide a long-lasting record which will be of use to practitioners, academics and policymakers involved in the ceramics industry or the commercialisation of digital technologies.   

Project Outputs


Brown, S.R. (2015) Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface in IMPACT 9 International Printmaking Conference, Hangzhou: China Academy of Art Press, 301–7 

Oakley, P. (2015) 'Digital Crafting: Re-evaluating Promises and Pitfalls' (English text with full translation into Korean). In: Making Futures Korea: Craft, meeting the new through changes in perception. Cheongju: Cheongju International Craft Biennale Committee, 159–74


Brown, S. R. (2016) Ceramics and New Technologies Symposium, Holburne Museum, Bath, UK, 26 February 2016

Oakley, P. (2015) 'Digital Crafting: Re-evaluating Promises and Pitfalls', at Making Futures Korea, part of the Cheongju International Craft Biennale, 9–10 October 2015

Oakley, P (2015) 'Digital Crafting: Defining the Field', at Making Futures IV conference, Plymouth College of Art, 24–25 September 2015


Smith, M. & Brown, S. R. (2015) Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface – Work in Progress, British Ceramics Biennial, 26 September – 8 November 2015. See here for further information.

Smith, M. (2015) Red and Black with Blue and Yellow, Marsden Woo Gallery, 18 November – 19 December 2015. See here and here for further information.

Related RCA Staff Research Outputs

Brown, S.R. (2013), ‘Material Matrixes: Building on a history of improvisational developments in print technology’, paper presented at Impact 8, Borders & Crossings: The Artist as Explorer, University of Dundee, 28 August – 1 September 2013. 

Brown, S.R. (2013), ‘The Materiality of Print: Issues of artifice and integrity relating to the printed ceramic surface’. In: Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 

Oakley, P. (2014) ‘Crafting with Digital Technologies’, keynote presentation for Craft 2.0 at Making Futures: Beijing, part of Beijing Design Festival, Dashilar Hutong, Beijing, 28 September 2014 

Oakley, P. (2014) ‘Crafting with Digital Technologies: Issues in practice’, in Making Futures Journal, vol.3. 

Smith, M. (2016) work exhibited in Blue and White: British Printed Ceramics, Victoria and Albert Museum, 31 January 2015 – 3 January 2016. See here for further information.

Related References:

Atkins, Nigel (2013), ‘Martin Smith: Matière à reflexion’. In La Revue de la Céramique et du Verre, No 190, Mai-Juin 2013, pp24-29. 

Wall, Siobhan (2009) Surface and Depth review, on ( 

Related School of Material Research Projects and Events:

Meissen Fountain Restoration Project
Crafting with Digital Technologies at Making Futures III
Digital Crafting: Defining the Field at Making Futures IV

Page author: Dr Peter Oakley

This project is funded by