Glass can be molded, formed, blown, plated, sintered and now 3D printed. Neri Oxman and her Mediated Matter Group team has just unveiled their new glass printing platform: G3DP: Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass. A collaboration with the Glass Lab at MIT, G3DP is the first of its kind and can 3D print optically transparent glass with stunning precision.
"G3DP is an additive manufacturing platform designed to print optically transparent glass," Oxman told ArchDaily. "The tunability enabled by geometrical and optical variation driven by form, transparency and color variation can drive; limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction, and therefore carries significant implications for all things glass: aerodynamic building facades optimized for solar gain, geometrically customized and variable thickness lighting devices and so on."
"Now consider printable optoelectronics, or the possibility of combining optical fibers for high-speed data transmission by light, combined within glass printed building facades. Or consider the possibility of printing spatial pockets and channels containing photosynthetic media. Think Centre Pompidou without functional or formal partitions. Instead consider a single transparent building skin that can integrate multiple functions and can be shaped to tune its performance," says Oxman.
"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 1900°F 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."
"Initial efforts are being conducted to test how the technology could be utilized to manufacture an architectural system from printed glass components," Mediated Matter told ArchDaily. "The advantages with 3D printing are in the expanded design space, the ability to achieve customization, and the fact that design complexity can be achieved. Glass can be distributed in a more sophisticated way throughout the cross section of each component, and intricate inner features are feasible which enable the incorporation of internal channels to distribute water, air and other biological mediums."
A selection of Glass pieces will appear in an exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016.
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 Professor Neri Oxman.