The art of creating objects out of glass has been around since the time of the Roman Empire. Glass blowing, once a secret technique known only to a few, is now widely known and has been refined with modern technology.
Inevitably, someone was able to figure out how to create transparent glass objects such as drinking cups and vases using 3D printing. MIT’s Mediated Matter Group has created the first 3D printer that uses molten glass as a building material.
The technique is called G3DP or Glass 3D Printing. The glass is melted to 1900 °F (1037 °C) in an upper chamber and then fed into a lower chamber where it is heated and then cooled while the object is created layer by layer using coils of molten glass.
The objects the MIT researcher were able to create were quite stunning. They will be on display at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016.
Until now, the making of glass objects has been reserved to either master craftsmen or factories. Now, as with so many other things, 3D printing promises a time, in the near future, when you can create custom-made objects out of glass. It may not be something you’ll want to try at home, but you can imagine sending a CAD file to a shop and a short time later receive a set of goblets created to your specifications or little figurines that you can give away as gifts. Truly we live in remarkable times.