3D printing technology is currently available in a wide range of materials including: ABS plastics, polyamide or nylon, PLA, waxes, polycarbonates and photopolymers. Soon, glass will also be available for this additive manufacturing technology. One of the materials.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have perfected the 3D printing process with molten glass. Their sophisticated system seeks to fully control the thermal materials to produce products that were previously difficult to make in 3D printing.
The team described the system called G3DP2 in a research report published in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, saying it is "a new molten glass additive manufacturing platform that will integrate digitally integrated three-zone thermal control systems. Combined with a four-axis motion control system, it creates industrial-scale production capacity that increases productivity and reliability while ensuring product accuracy and repeatability that were previously impossible."
This is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology, a material that has complex chemistry and requires extreme temperature melting and molding. Although it is one of the old manufacturing materials, the production and design of glass still presents challenges. This explains why it takes so long to use glass for 3D printing.
The system setup includes a closed heating box that is tasked with accommodating molten glass and a heated secondary box, which is where the glass is converted into a three-dimensional object. The glass extrusion system is precisely controlled to ensure that impurities and structural problems do not disrupt the crystallization process. According to foreign media reports, the resulting transparent glass structure can be used for construction or decoration.
One of the finished products that G3DP2 can manufacture is a set of 3 meter high glass columns made for Milan Design Week 2017. The device highlights the geometric complexity, strength, precision and transparency of 3D printed glass and demonstrates the potential of this invention in architectural design.