Humans have been making glass in various forms for thousands of years, from glassblowing techniques developed by the Roman empire to the industrial methods of the 1950s, floating molten glass on huge baths of melted tin. One particularly ancient process though, in which molten glass is coiled around a solid core, has been revived with the help of modern technology. MIT's Mediated Matter Group has unveiled a new way to 3D print glass, removing the need for a solid core but coiling the material in molten strands just like our ancestors did thousands of years ago.
the first of its kind optically transparent 3D-printed glass
The method is mesmerizing to watch, with the coils of glass stacking up like a thick gelatinous glaze or poured honey. The nozzle that extrudes the material is made of ceramic and heated by hand to ensure that the filament is produced at a consistent diameter — necessary for making sure the 3D printed glass cools in a slow and controlled manner. In fact, the entire build chamber is heated, kept at a temperature of between 480 and 515 degrees Celsius. The result, says the MIT team led by Neri Oxman and Peter Houk, is a machine that produces the first of its kind optically transparent 3D-printed glass. For more information on the technique, you can read the full paper from MIT here.