Monday, August 24, 2015

3D printing - with glass

One of the seminal stories about fiberglass is that of Dale Kleist’s discovery in the 1930s. Quite by accident, he discovered that if you blew compressed air through a stream of molten glass you’d get what came to be known as fiberglass. At the time he was working on a way to weld glass blocks using molten glass…

And now, some 83 years later, it looks like the technology has just about come full circle.

Researchers at MIT and Wyss Institute have discovered a way to 3D print with molten glass. The process is called 3DGP and is done with two stacked glass furnaces. The molten glass gets funneled through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle that extrudes the glass into transparent shapes, similar to how 3D plastic printers work – only much hotter.

Here’s a link to a write-up by the MIT Glass Lab:

And here’s a fascinating video of the process – the really interesting part starts at about 1:40: 

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