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Researchers Use Fire And Robotic Arm To 3D Print Glass

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Researchers from two different institutes have combined forces to put a focused lens on glass printing — and they're doing it with a robot and 3D printing.

3D Printing Industry is reporting that researchers at Virginia Tech and the Rhode Island School of Design have created a system and lab for glass printing. The system, as the video below shows, involves molten glass being printed and poured onto a ceramic tile and a robotic arm moving the tile afterwards to allow the molten glass to take shape.

Although the results are still very much in their most-basic stages, the fact that a 3D printer is printing with glass lays the groundwork for the technology to be bolstered and improved as time goes on.

"This research is an example of innovation that can occur at the intersection of art, design, technology, and science," Stefanie Pender, a glass artist at the Rhode Island School of Design, told 3D Printing Industry. "Instead of a technology-driven approach, we can approach digital fabrication from a place of profound material understanding. This research is evidence that the traditional technical arts will not be replaced by digital fabrication, instead, the technical arts will help to drive and support the direction of future making."

Added assistant professor of architecture in the Center for Design Research at the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design, Nathan King: "The glass robotics facility is the first of its kind research studio and will house a large custom glass furnace, large format annealing ovens, and will utilize the Design Robotics Studio's large format industrial robotic arm to support the advancement of the mission to realize new potential in glass through the lens of computational design and digital fabrication processes."

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