SCIENCE

3D-Printed Glass Is Here And The Results Are Beautiful

Let your imagination run free with this new building platform from MIT

SCIENCE
Aug 26, 2015 at 4:19 PM ET

3D printing of electronics, robots, and even bridges with materials such as metal and plastic, is already a reality. But now engineers at MIT have shown we can now print with glass using their brand new G3DP (Glass 3D Printing) platform.

Employing a process that combines ancient techniques with modern technology, the Mediated Matter Group created a two-tiered “printer” capable of producing intricate designs that would’ve been tough, if not impossible, to replicate using conventional glass-blowing methods. The upper chamber stores the molten glass at 1,900°F which then then funnels it down through a heat resistant funnel to a lower compartment that allows the glass to cool but not break.

What does this mean for the future of glass manufacturing? Aside from the obvious architectural fantasies of beautiful glass building facades and fancy chandeliers, Dominic Basulto of the Washington Post visualizes the everyday possibilities for 3D-printed glass. “Imagine drink vending machines that house 3-D printers capable of dispensing glass bottles made on demand. Hit ‘3-D print’ and the vending machine prints a glass bottle together with the juice or soda ingredients that go into that glass bottle. That’s not as far-fetched as it might seem.”