Back Bay John Hancock building in Boston, Massachusetts - USA Samuel Borges/Adobe Stock

The traction of 3D printing in the building world has been slow and experimental. Now, MIT has found a way to use molten glass in a more effective way, promising to change the way we look at 3D printing buildings, as this International Business Times article reports.

The art of 3D printing already utilizes a variety of materials including ABS plastic, polyamide or nylon, PLA, wax, polycarbonates and photopolymers. And now glass could soon be one of the general materials used in this process of additive manufacturing.

Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently perfected the process of 3D printing using molten glass. The system that they came up with manages to have full control over the hot material, resulting to stable final products that were previously difficult to make with 3D printing.

The team described the system, called G3DP2, in their study published in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, saying that it’s “a new AM platform for molten glass that combines digitally integrated three-zone thermal control system with four-axis motion control system, introducing industrial-scale production capabilities with enhanced production rate and reliability while ensuring product accuracy and repeatability, all previously unattainable for glass.”

This is a breakthrough in 3D printing for glass is a material that has complex chemistry and requires extreme temperatures to be melted and moulded into structures. Despite being one of the oldest manufacturing materials, there are still persistent challenges that come with glass production and design. This explains why it took time before glass was used in 3D printing.

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