3D Printing In Glass

Solheim Lab’s Vitraglyphic process
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A team of engineers and artists working at the University of Washington’s Solheim Rapid Manufacturing Laboratory has developed a way to create glass objects using a conventional 3-D printer. The technique allows a new type of material to be used in such devices. The team’s method, which it named the Vitraglyphic process, is a follow-up to the Solheim Lab’s success last spring printing with ceramics. As with its ceramics 3-D printing recipe, the Solheim lab is releasing its method of printing glass for general use.

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Glass powder doesn’t readily absorb liquid so the approach used with ceramic printing had to be radically altered.
Using their normal process to print objects produced gelatin-like parts when they used glass powders. which cold be really interesting, wobbly glass? They had to reformulate their approach for both powder and binder. By adjusting the ratio of powder to liquid the team found a way to build solid parts out of powdered glass.

Glass is a material that can be transparent or opaque, but is distinguished as an inorganic material (one which contains no carbon) that solidifies from a molten state without the molecules forming an ordered crystalline structure. Glass molecules remain in a disordered state, so glass is technically a super-cooled liquid rather than a true solid. 3-D printed glass bears remarkable similarities to pate de verre, a technique for creating glassware. In pate de verre, glass powder is mixed with a binding material such as egg white or enamel, placed in a mold and fired. The technique dates from early Egyptian times.

The Solheim Rapid Prototyping Laboratory and Professor Mark A. Ganter, of the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, specializes in advanced research and teaching in solid modeling, rapid prototyping, and innovative 3D printing systems. Here is a formula they use for solid modeling with Boundary Representation (B-Rep), where an object is defined as the union of surfaces that form the object’s boundary.

Ge(x,y,z) = max(x^2+y^2-196,-x^2-y^2+16,-min(max(x^2+y^2-138.0625000,-x^2-y^2+16,1/12*abs(z+20)-1,-z-20,-max(-x^2-y^2+64,x^2+y^2-625/4,1/8*abs(z+20)-1)),max(x^2+y^2-138.0625000,-x^2-y^2+16,1/12*abs(z-20)-1,z-20,-max(-x^2-y^2+64,x^2+y^2-625/4,1/8*abs(z-20)-1))),1/14*abs(z)-1)

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