Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass

2015  Klein, J., MS thesis, MIT,

The thesis presents an Additive Manufacturing Enabling Technology for Optically Transparent Glass. The platform builds on existing manufacturing traditions and introduces new dimensions of novelty across scales by producing unique structures with numerous potential applications in product‐, and architectural‐design. The platform is comprised of scalable modular elements able to operate at the high temperatures required to process glass from a molten state to an annealed product. The process demonstrated enables the construction of 3D parts as described by Computer Aided Design (CAD) models. Processing parameters such as temperature, flow rate, layer height and feed rate, can be adjusted to tailor the printing process to the desired component; its shape and its properties. The research explores, defines and hard‐codes geometric constraints and coiling patterns as well as the integration of various colors into the current controllable process,
contributing to a new design and manufacturing space. Performed characterization of the printed material to determine its morphological, mechanical and optical properties, is presented and discussed. Printed parts demonstrated strong adhesion between layers and satisfying optical clarity. The molten glass 3D printer as well as the fabricated objects exhibited, demonstrate the production of parts which are highly repeatable, enable light transmission, and resemble the visual and mechanical performance of glass constructs that are conventionally obtained. Utilizing the optical nature of glass, complex caustic patterns were created by projecting light through the printed objects.  The 3D printed glass objects and process described here, aim to contribute new capabilities to the ever‐evolving history of a very challenging but limitless material – glass.

Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass

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