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GLASS / G3DP – 3D printing of optically transparent glass

Created as a collaboration between MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter Group, MIT’s Department of Mechnical Engineering and MIT’s Glass Lab, GLASS / G3DP is a additive manufacturing process that enables 3D printing of optically transparent glass that also allows tunability by geometrical and optical variation that drives form, transparency, color variation, reflection and refraction.

The platform is based on a dual heated chamber concept. The upper chamber acts as a kiln cartridge while the lower chamber serves to anneal the structures. The kiln cartridge operates at approximately 1040°C and can contain sufficient material to build a single architectural component. The molten material gets funneled through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle. The project synthesizes modern technologies, with age-old established glass tools and technologies producing novel glass structures with numerous potential applications.


↑ Glass 3D printing process. Photos: Steven Keating

The G3DP project was created in collaboration between the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab, the Mechanical Engineering Department, the MIT Glass Lab and Wyss Institute. Researchers include John Klein, Michael Stern, Markus Kayser, Chikara Inamura, Giorgia Franchin, Shreya Dave, James Weaver, Peter Houk and Prof. Neri Oxman.

Project PageMediated Matter GroupGlass LabMIT’s Department of Mechnical Engineering

Available on FRAMED*

Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass video is also available on FRAMED 2.0 when purchased at the MoMA Design Store. Perfectly looped two scenes show molten glass being deposited in a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process, layer by layer. The view looks into the lower annealing chamber as the glass flows out of the nozzle. Find out more here.

Caustic patterns of a 3D printed glass structure. Photo: Chikara Inamura.

Caustic patterns of a 3D printed glass structure. Photo: Chikara Inamura.

Caustic patterns of a 3D printed glass structure. Photo: Andy Ryan

Caustic patterns of a 3D printed glass structure. Photo: Andy Ryan

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Caustic patterns of a 3D printed glass structure. Photo: Andy Ryan


↑ 3D printed glass structure (Image Credit: Chikara Inamura)

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  • 3D printing has evolved from being an experimental technology, to being a major factor in many industries today, including construction, medicine and biology. Software development companies like Q3 technologies (www.q3tech.com) offers insight into 3D printing by posting articles relating to the subject.