Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveiled a new 3D printing method on Friday that employs transparent glass as precursor instead of plastic. The method, called G3DP, works basically the same way that conventional 3D printing does though the team found that they could modulate the light transmission, reflection and refraction qualities by precisely varying the thickness of the print.
The system uses a pair of heated chambers stacked atop one another; the 1900-degree F upper chamber acting as a Kiln Cartridge and the lower chamber serving to anneal the constructed structures. Researchers at MIT Media Lab collaborated with the school’s Mechanical Engineering Department, the MIT Glass Lab and Wyss Institute to create the G3DP. The team believes that method could eventually lead to better quality and less expensive fiber optics.