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The big question that’s nagged 3-D printing from the start is just what is the technology good for, anyway? It’s been asked of every new material touted by enthusiasts of the tool, from plastic to metal to wax. And now, glass.
Neri Oxman and her team at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter Group, along with the MIT Glass Lab and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, recently unveiled G3DP, a 3-D printer for glass. The machine, the first of its kind, heats glass to more than 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln, then extrudes it through an aluminum nozzle. In the gif below, you see translucent goo piped out of a nozzle and drizzled like honey before crystallizing into a ribbed structure. It’s hypnotic, even beautiful.
Yet the question remains: So what? The 3-D printed pieces, which will be shown at the Cooper Hewitt next year, are decorative, like vases you might find in an armoire full of glassware. The objects are small, because the nozzle extrudes a filament 10mm in diameter and the machine can’t make anything bigger than about 10 inches long and 11 inches high. […]