Breakthrough in Glass 3D Printing

G3DP is a new additive manufacturing platform designed to 3D print optically transparent glass with incredible accuracy.

Designed by a team at MIT called Mediated Matter, the creators of the printer believe it will allow glassmakers (and those who like to to design with glass) to determine the colour, light transparency and form of their finished glass designs with total precision – thus opening up a world of design potential in the production of everything from aerodynamic glass building facades, to lighting devices to museum quality glass pieces.

So how does it work? The top of the printer is like a small kiln, within which the glass is placed. When the kiln is fired (to approximately 1900 Fahrenheit) the glass melts. The lower part of the printer has an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle, which functions similarly to a desktop FDM printer. Molten glass flows from the kiln, through the nozzle and is extruded from there into layers that cool and harden. To stop the flow of glass, the temperature of the nozzle is cooled via compressed air.

“As designers learn to utilize this new freedom in glass manufacturing it is expected that a whole range of novel applications will be discovered,” the team says.

You can check out a video of Mediated Matter’s glass printer here.

Examples of the glass pieces will be on display next year at the Cooper, Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.