Published On: Wed, Aug 26th, 2015

WATCH: MIT Professor Neri Oxman’s Team Developed Amazing New 3-D Printer Uses Molten Glass

The researchers at MIT's Mediated Matter have invented a 3-D printer—G3DP—that produces optically transparent glass with the push of a button.

Neri Oxman - Photo Conor Doharty

 

The team in Mediated Matter lead by MIT professor Neri Oxman has developed a system called G3DP, which they say is the world’s first fully functional material extrusion method for 3D printing optically transparent glass. The 3D printer contains a “kiln cartridge” that heats up the material at an incredible 1, 900 degrees (approximately 1, 037 degrees Celsius!)   until it is molten.

The technique, detailed in a paper online, show a lower chamber where the glass is softened and funneled through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle.

 

Mediated_Matter_glass_cover_1024 3D printing

 

In a stunning video of the process in action, the machine creates objects by methodically laying down transparent layers of soft glass, looks like honey, which instantly hardening.

Mediated Matter—the innovative MIT Media Lab researchers behind a silk pavilion constructed by 6, 500 live silkworms and a robot trained to weave architectural structures—has so far been using the printer to create glass decorative objects like vases, prisms. A selection of Glass pieces will appear in an exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016.

 

3D printed glass credit  © Andy Ryan

 

 

MIT’s focus isn’t just on the finery of the physical forms – the researchers are as much occupied with the way light flows through these previously impossible glass structures. “The tunability enabled by geometrical and optical variation driven by form, transparency and colour variation can drive; limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction, and therefore carries significant implications for all things glass, ” the team said in a statement.

Mediated Matter’s director prof. Neri Oxman told  ArchDaily that the technology has potential for applications on a much larger scale, like glass-printed building facades or fiber optic cables that transmit data faster. “Now, consider printable optoelectronics, or the possibility of combining optical fibers for high-speed data transmission by light, combined within glass printed building facades. It also hold significant implications for all things glass: aerodynamic building facades optimized for solar gain, ” she said.

 

GLASS from Mediated Matter Group on Vimeo.

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The full text version of Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass.

The patent Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass was filed on April 25 of 2014.

Neri Oxman

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