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The New RP Material…Glass

As you may recall from your high school chemistry class, glass is essentially a melted form of silicon dioxide, a.k.a., “sand.” And as you may know from experience with additive technology equipment, some of them start out with sand-like particles that are subsequently melted and fused to form the desired product.

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As you may recall from your high school chemistry class, glass is essentially a melted form of silicon dioxide, a.k.a., “sand.” And as you may know from experience with additive technology equipment, some of them start out with sand-like particles that are subsequently melted and fused to form the desired product.

That brings us to Shapeways which allows individual to have their designs created via additive technology processes. They have offered materials ranging from polymers to steel. And now, glass.

Here’s how it’s done:

Notice that the “Milky White Matte” glass is opaque and has a rough texture. This is the result of the powder being used in the process, which is made from recycled soda-lime glass.

Still early in the glass printing practice, there are limitations on the material’s printing capabilities. For instance, minimum wall thickness is 3 mm. Because the part shrinks during the sintering process, the consequent distortion makes it difficult to produce large (current maximum print size is 75 x 75 x 75 mm) and complex parts.

Shapeways recommends glass for printing small household objects such as table centerpieces, decorative platters and figurines. Just don’t drop them because one characteristic the material retains is its fragility.