3D Printing with Glass – A Game-Changer?

The following excerpt was borrowed from MIT Labs’ Mediated Matter Group:

Ancient yet modern, enclosing yet invisible, glass was first created in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt 4,500 years ago. Precise recipes for its production – the chemistry and techniques – often remain closely guarded secrets. Glass can be molded, formed, blown, plated or sintered; its formal qualities are closely tied to techniques used for its formation.

From the discovery of core-forming process for bead-making in ancient Egypt, through the invention of the metal blow pipe during Roman times, to the modern industrial Pilkington process for making large-scale flat glass; each new breakthrough in glass technology occurred as a result of prolonged experimentation and ingenuity, and has given rise to a new universe of possibilities for uses of the material.

Alas, another breakthrough has given rise to a new universe of possibilities, thanks to the folks at MIT Labs. Their Mediated Matter Group has created a 3D printer that uses not plastic, but molten glass as its medium. Watch the video:

GLASS from Mediated Matter Group on Vimeo.

Imagine the possibilities! And we’re not here to talk about the possibilities in architecture or improvements to fiberoptic technology. We’ll leave that discussion to a science blog. Think about the potential for the ultimate smoking apparatus! Will your children or grandchildren grow up and buy their first water pipe that was created not with a torch and a blow hose, but with computer-aided-design software and a 3D glass printer? What implications could this have to the world of glass art? Would glass artists suffer, or would Chinese manufacturers take the brunt of the shifting market? Let us know what you think below.

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